Latest on the impeachment inquiry

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham talks to reporters in the Senate Reception Room at the U.S. Capitol on Thursday in Washington, DC. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham talks to reporters in the Senate Reception Room at the U.S. Capitol on Thursday in Washington, DC.  Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

In another sign of the dangerous predicament facing President Donald Trump, his longtime ally Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham said in an interview that aired Sunday night that he could not rule out the possibility of impeachment if new evidence emerges.

In an interview on “Axios on HBO,” Jonathan Swan asked the South Carolina senator: “Are you open minded if more to comes out that you could support impeachment?”

“Sure, I mean show me something that is a crime,” Graham replied. “If you could show me that, you know, Trump actually was engaging in a quid pro quo outside the phone call, that would be very disturbing.”

Swan was referencing Trump’s request in a White House phone call to Ukraine’s President for help investigating former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter. There is no evidence of wrongdoing by either Biden.

Graham repeated his view — voiced many times in the past few weeks — that Trump’s July phone call with Ukraine did not amount to an impeachable offense, saying according to Axios, “I’ve read the transcript of the Ukrainian phone call. That’s not a quid pro quo to me.”

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Qantas test flight completes record 19-hour non-stop flight from New York to Sydney

With 49 people on board, the Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner flight completed the 10,066-mile journey from New York to Sydney in 19 hours and 16 minutes.

Qantas Group Chief executive Alan Joyce said: “This is a really significant first for aviation. Hopefully, it’s a preview of a regular service that will speed up how people travel from one side of the globe to the other.”

Research into the health and well-being of those on board were conducted during the flight with tests ranging from monitoring pilot brain waves, melatonin levels and alertness to exercise classes for passengers.

Joyce added: “We know ultra long haul flights pose some extra challenges but that’s been true every time technology has allowed us to fly further. The research we’re doing should give us better strategies for improving comfort and wellbeing along the way.”

The next test flight will take place in November, from London to Sydney, while there will be another New York to Sydney flight before the end of the year.

Qantas has said it hopes to operate direct flights from three cities on Australia’s east coast — Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane — and New York and London by 2022 or 2023.

Captain Sean Golding said: “Overall, we’re really happy with how the flight went and it’s great have some of the data we need to help assess turning this into a regular service.”

The Qantas Boeing 787 Dreamliner plane arrives at Sydney International Airport

The Qantas Boeing 787 Dreamliner plane arrives at Sydney International Airport after flying direct from New York on Sunday, October 20, 2019.

David Gray /Getty Images for Qantas/GETTY IMAGES

How will the passengers be monitored?

Researchers from Sydney University’s Charles Perkins Centre, Monash University and the Alertness Safety and Productivity Cooperative Research Centre — a scientific program backed by the Australian government — will examine the impact of the long flight on those on board.

Passengers in the main cabin wore monitoring devices, and experts from the Charles Perkins Centre will study how their “health, wellbeing and body clock” was impacted by a set of variables that include lighting, food and drink, movement, sleep patterns and inflight entertainment.

Those on board were advised to keep a daily log in the lead-up to the flight and for two weeks afterwards, to show how they feel and how they’ve coped with jet lag.

Pilots and cabin crew will also keep sleep diaries. Cameras were mounted in the cockpit to record pilot alertness.

“People seem to be wildly different when it comes to the experience of jetlag — and we need more research on what contributes to jetlag and travel fatigue, so we can try and reduce the impact of long-haul flights,” Professor Stephen Simpson, academic director of the University of Sydney’s Charles Perkins Centre, told CNN Travel.

“We have a long way to go in terms of understanding how the wide variety of influences — including nutrition, hydration, exercise, sleep and light — might work together for maximum benefit.”

Monash University scientists will focus on the flight crew, recording their melatonin levels before, during and after the flights, as well as studying brain wave data from electroencephalogram devices worn by the pilots.

This information will then be shared with the Civil Aviation Safety Authority “to help inform regulatory requirements associated with ultra-long-haul flights,” Qantas said in a statement.

Francesca Street and Emily Dixon contributed to this report.

Boris Johnson brings his new Brexit deal to a vote in emergency Saturday sitting

 TOLGA AKMEN/AFP via Getty Images  TOLGA AKMEN/AFP via Getty Images

On Friday morning, Boris Johnson had a spring in his step.

He’d returned from Brussels with a new Brexit withdrawal deal. Most of his own party supports it, and although Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party is withholding support, opposition lawmakers were lining up behind the deal.

Johnson was making clear to these supporters of a softer Brexit that if they don’t vote for his deal, then they make a no-deal crash out a real possibility. And for some hours, Johnson’s “my deal or no deal” gambit was working.

Then Oliver Letwin published his amendment, killing Johnson’s momentum.

The Letwin amendment essentially means that the government cannot pass the deal in full until all of the Brexit legislation has passed. Letwin says that his aim is to provide a safety net to avoid an accidental no deal.

The government thinks that it’s a plot to delay Brexit and prevent the UK from leaving the EU. They might have a point. Johnson is obliged by law to request a Brexit extension if no formal deal is agreed by the House of Commons at 11 p.m. tonight. The Letwin amendment effectively makes meeting that requirement impossible.

Letwin has presented MPs with an alternative to the “my deal or no deal” threat issued by Johnson and the government. And for now, it’s killed dead the rush of support for the Prime Minister.

Lawmakers on both sides honor Cummings

Elijah Cummings was born and raised in Baltimore — the city that is home to his district.

So when President Donald Trump called the majority black district a “disgusting, rat and rodent infested mess,” Cummings hit back.

Responding to some of the President’s tweets — in which Trump suggested the congressman needed to spend more time fixing his district — Cummings said on Twitter: “Mr. President, I go home to my district daily. Each morning, I wake up, and I go and fight for my neighbors. It is my constitutional duty to conduct oversight of the Executive Branch. But, it is my moral duty to fight for my constituents.”

In a White House meeting with Trump following the spat, Cummings said he urged the President to rethink his language on African American communities.

“I want you to realize that all African American communities are not places of depression and where people are being harmed,” Cummings told reporters, recalling his conversation with Trump. “When we hear those words about carnage and we are living in depressed situations, I told him it was very hurtful.”

Cummings has spent decades fighting for Baltimore — and it’s a fundamental part of his story. The son of former sharecroppers, Cummings was born in 1951 and graduated from Baltimore City College High School in 1969.

He practiced law and served for 14 years in the Maryland House of Delegates, where, according to his congressional website, he became the first African American in Maryland history to be named Speaker Pro tem.

In 1996, he was first elected to the US Congress. Cummings was reelected last year in the 7th Congressional District with 76% of the vote.

Cummings grew up in the Civil Rights era and recently discussed how, even at a young age, he was part of that movement to integrate parts of his neighborhood.

“We were trying to integrate an Olympic-size pool near my house, and we had been constrained to a wading pool in the black community,” Cummings told ABC’s “This Week” earlier this month. “As we tried to March to that pool over six days, I was beaten, all kinds of rocks and bottles thrown at me.”

The Maryland Democrat said Trump’s racist remarks regarding four other members of Congress echoed the same insults he heard as a 12-year-old boy in 1962, which he said were “very painful.”

“The interesting thing is that I heard the same chants. ‘Go home. You don’t belong here,’ ” he told ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos. “And they called us the N-word over and over again.”

Ashley Killough contributed to this post.

Boris Johnson pushes for Brexit deal ahead of EU summit

If media reports are to be believed, a Brexit deal is tantalizingly close. EU and UK negotiators might have missed Tuesday’s midnight deadline to agree on a legal text, but they are still hammering away and trying to get something sorted ahead of Thursday’s EU Council summit. 

If that happens, Boris Johnson will be able to claim a huge victory. He was told that there was no chance the EU would reopen the Withdrawal Agreement, the formal name for Theresa May’s Brexit deal, nor that the EU would allow Johnson to scrap key elements of it. 

Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson.Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson. DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP via Getty Images

But, he shouldn’t celebrate for too long. Getting a deal with the EU Commission is the easy part.

Cast your mind back to last November, and you’ll remember Theresa May celebrating her Brexit deal being agreed by her Cabinet as the UK geared up to finally leave the EU — then all hell broke loose. 

Her Brexit secretary, Dominic Raab resigned over the deal. Her Northern Irish allies, the DUP, rendered the deal dead on arrival. And large parts of her own Conservative Party were so angry they tried to remove her as Prime Minister.

If the last three years have taught us anything, it’s that there is no version of Brexit that pleases everyone. Brussels wants legal assurances that the UK won’t undercut Europe on regulations or damage the integrity of its single market. Brexiteers want Britain to be an independent trading nation, free to do as it pleases. Which leaves any PM with a choice: gun for a deal that no side loves but can stomach, or give one side everything it wants.

Boris Johnson might soon regret giving Theresa May such a hard time in office. If he doesn’t strike the right balance in getting a deal, he will learn the hard way that no one likes the thought of being sold out on Brexit.

Queen’s Speech opens new session of UK Parliament during Brexit deadlock

PAUL ELLIS/POOL/AFP/Getty Images PAUL ELLIS/POOL/AFP/Getty Images

The first and most important piece of legislation announced by the Queen is the European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill, which will lay out the plans for Britain’s departure from the EU.

“My government’s priority has always been to secure the United Kingdom’s departure from the European Union on 31 October,” the Queen says, at the start of her speech. “My government intends to work towards a new partnership with the European Union, based on free trade and friendly cooperation.”

Johnson plans to put the bill before MPs next week, once debate on the Queen’s Speech has wrapped up — but it’s not clear if he’ll get the chance, given that his perilous position in Parliament means he is at risk of losing the vote on his agenda.

Even more pressing is the fact that Johnson is yet to agree any deal with the EU. If he hasn’t done so by the EU summit at the end of this week, he’s mandated by law to request another Brexit extension.

“An immigration bill, ending free movement, will lay the foundation for a fair, modern and global immigration system,” the speech adds.

“My Government remains committed to ensuring that resident European citizens, who have built their lives in, and contributed so much to, the United Kingdom, have the right to remain. The bill will include measures that reinforce this commitment,” she added.

“Steps will be taken to provide certainty, stability and new opportunities for the financial services and legal sectors.”

Centuries-old Chinese fashion is making a comeback

Contributors Natalie Thomas, CNN

This feature is part of a wider CNN Style series on how culture in China is evolving in the Xi Jinping era.

When Zhang Lingshan was a child, she would watch the Chinese period drama “Palace” on television, entranced by the characters’ ancient clothing. The costumes were colorful and regal, long gowns embroidered with lotus flowers and dragons, topped with intricate headpieces.

She didn’t know what these beautiful clothes were called — only that they were from some distant past.

“When I saw it, I really liked it,” she said. “They looked fairy-like, dreamy. I was completely drawn by the beauty of these clothes, and then eventually came to understand the culture of Hanfu, and I liked it more and more.”

Now aged 19 and living in Beijing, Zhang is a member of China’s growing “Hanfu” movement — a renaissance of the ancient clothing traditionally worn by ethnic-majority Han Chinese before the Qing dynasty. The movement, which started in the early 2000s as a fringe subculture on online forums and websites, has now stepped out onto the streets.

Ancient Chinese fashion is making a comeback

Though it’s still not mainstream, if you walk through major cities you may see a fan dressed in the sweeping robes, crossed collars and wide sleeves of Hanfu, which literally translates to “Han clothing.”

There are Hanfu shops, designers and researchers, and even photography studios that rent out accessories and outfits.

Hanfu outfits cost anywhere from $30 to a few thousand dollars, depending on the quality. Sales have soared in recent years — the Hanfu industry’s total market value is estimated to be worth 1.09 billion yuan (about $154 million), according to state-run media China Daily.

Tight-knit Hanfu communities and university clubs often meet up for themed activities like folk games or costume showings. Zhang and her friends sometimes visit places with ancient architecture, like Beijing’s Forbidden City, where emperors once resided, to take photos in costume and post them on social media.

"Hanfu" refers to ancient clothing worn before the Qing dynasty. Young Hanfu fans model the fashion's characteristic wide sleeves and sweeping robes in highly stylized photo shoots.

“Hanfu” refers to ancient clothing worn before the Qing dynasty. Young Hanfu fans model the fashion’s characteristic wide sleeves and sweeping robes in highly stylized photo shoots. Credit: Chengdu Linxi Photography Room

Chen Zhenbing, chairman of the China Hanfu Association, fell in love with the clothing when he was 16 and handmade his first Hanfu suit back when it was still a niche interest. He recalled holding a 2005 Hanfu event that only attracted about 50 attendees — five years later, a similar event drew up to 500 people, he said.

Nowadays, Hanfu events around the country can draw upwards of a thousand attendees.

He and many others see Hanfu as a way to celebrate Chinese culture and improve national self-esteem. For years, Chinese professionals looked to the West for their wardrobes, wearing dress shirts and suits as the country’s economy raced to catch up. Now, “we don’t think China is underdeveloped,” said Christine Tsui, a fashion columnist and researcher based in Shanghai. “So it’s the confidence of the younger people, the confidence of the country.”

And yet, there are others who take a more critical view of Hanfu’s popularity, seeing it as a reflection of a monoethnic nationalist surge under President Xi Jinping, who has repeatedly promoted “traditional virtues” and patriotism.
China officially recognizes 56 ethnic groups, of which 55 are minorities. Han, the majority group, makes up about 92% of the country’s population.

Critics of the movement like Kevin Carrico, a senior research fellow in Chinese Studies at Melbourne’s Monash University, argue that the popularization of Hanfu only reinforces Han cultural dominance, to the detriment of the millions of people making up China’s ethnic minorities.

In this context, he and other academics say Hanfu is no longer just an innocent fashion trend — but something to be weaponized in promoting a nationalistic political agenda.

A contested history

Some enthusiasts have developed guidelines to define “authentic” Hanfu. For instance, while many may consider the tight-fitting, high-necked “qipao” as an example of typical Chinese period clothing, in the Hanfu community, it’s not considered Han clothing because it originated from the ethnic Manchu people.

It can be a touchy topic — some Hanfu sites claim that Manchu leaders forcibly erased Hanfu during the Qing dynasty. “They forced the Han people to drop their costumes, and so this piece of China’s cultural identity almost died out in the 20th century,” reads one article in state-run media.

So for some Hanfu fans, wearing Han clothing becomes an act of cultural and historical reclamation.

A fan takes a break outside a gathering of Hanfu devotees at a park in Beijing.

A fan takes a break outside a gathering of Hanfu devotees at a park in Beijing. Credit: GREG BAKER/AFP/AFP/Getty Images

But this narrative of Han suppression may not be entirely accurate, and determining “authentic” Hanfu is difficult, said Carrico, who studied and wrote about the phenomenon in his book “The Great Han: Race, Nationalism, and Tradition in China Today.”

“There wasn’t any singular style of clothing prior to the Qing (dynasty) that was designated specifically for people of Han ethnicity,” he said in a phone interview.

Carrico argued that Han Chinese wore all types of clothing styles through the dynasties — so there isn’t one Hanfu style but dozens depending on the time period, geographic region and socioeconomic class.

Photography studios that specialize in Hanfu photo shoots are becoming more popular.

Photography studios that specialize in Hanfu photo shoots are becoming more popular. Credit: Chengdu Linxi Photography Room

Some Hanfu enthusiasts acknowledge this historical diversity. For instance, Chen said round-collar robes were preferred in the Tang dynasty, while layered wrap dresses were more popular in the Ming dynasty. Still, he said there are a few common design features that characterize Hanfu — a cross collar, no buttons and typically three layers of inner garments and an overcoat. Motifs that are frequently used include embroidered cranes, dragons, swirling clouds and delicate flowers.

This fluidity between the different styles is why 23-year-old Lu Yao, who lives in Beijing, prefers to use the term “Huafu,” which refers to Chinese clothing more generally without the ethnic connotations.

Hanfu was too narrow a term, she said, pointing out that Chinese culture was full of “fusion and integration” between diverse ethnic groups.

However, many fans take pride in the Han distinction of “Hanfu.”

“To some extent, the revival of Hanfu is the revival of Han culture, and the revival of Han culture is also the revival of Chinese culture,” said Chen, who now owns a Hanfu store and helps organize events. “I think the Han nationality is the most powerful and unified nationality in the world, with the most sacred and noble culture. No nationality can compare with the Han nationality.”

‘Ethnic flattening’

Chen echoes the kind of nationalist surge that has swept through China in recent years. Much of this rhetoric harks back to a supposed golden era in China’s history, centuries ago.

When Xi Jinping took power in 2012, he promised “a great revival of the Chinese nation,” and regularly quotes the ancient philosopher-teacher Confucius. Schools are seeing an increased emphasis on Chinese culture, literature and history, which “teaches the youth to see things through the China lens,” said Wessie Ling, an associate professor in fashion studies at the UK’s Northumbria University.

But academics like Carrico and Ling fear an emphasis on Hanfu and Han culture could further edge out minority groups and flatten China’s ethnic diversity.

Ethnic marginalization and suppression is a particularly prominent concern in today’s China. For the last two-and-a-half-years, China has been detaining hundreds of thousands of Uyghurs and other predominantly Muslim ethnic minorities in the far western region of Xinjiang. Beijing describes the measures as “voluntary de-radicalization camps” and “vocational training centers.” Critics call them “re-education camps.” Critics and former detainees say they are actually forced political “re-education camps” and compare them to internment camps.
Some Uyghurs claim the camps are part of a wider and systemic program of “cultural genocide” by Beijing, intended to eliminate their religion and culture and bring them closer to China’s majority Han population.

In recent years, Chinese media has showcased numerous examples of Uyghur schoolchildren and adults dressed in Hanfu during celebrations and public performances.

“While Uyghur clothing is being discouraged in schools, or only allowed under strict parameters set by the authorities, Chinese clothing is being increasingly pushed on Uyghurs students,” said non-profit organization Uyghur Human Rights Project in a 2018 report.

According to the report, “assimilative policies” carried out by the government include “pressuring Uyghurs to publicly perform modern dances, sing Communist ‘Red Songs,'” and “wear pseudo-traditional Chinese Hanfu robes.”

The Xinjiang government has not responded to CNN’s request for comment.

Carrico says this is more evidence of forced assimilation — of “erasing groups’ culture and heritage, and imaginarily making them Han.”

Matthew Chew, a Hong Kong Baptist University professor who studied the sociology of Chinese national dress takes a different view — Hanfu still isn’t mainstream enough to be worn by most Han people in daily life, let alone prevalent enough to be forced onto ethnic minorities, he said.

“It’s still a minority subculture,” Chew said in a phone interview. “The risk (of ethnic suppression) is really low.”

Besides, he added, “there are nationalists who are not ethnonationalists. Some who don’t base their love of the country on ethnic criteria.” There are more harmless forms of nationalism, he argued.

Women rehearsing for a performance at a gathering of Hanfu fans in Beijing.

Women rehearsing for a performance at a gathering of Hanfu fans in Beijing. Credit: GREG BAKER/AFP/AFP/Getty Images

Other Hanfu fans like the Beijing teenager Zhang take issue with the politicization of Hanfu. “I simply like this clothing, it’s beautiful,” she said, adding that it was “nonsense” to link Hanfu with nationalism.

“We should have a more relaxed attitude towards Hanfu,” she said. “Don’t make something that you like so exhausting.”

Tsui, the fashion columnist, echoed this sentiment — people just wear Hanfu “for their own dreams,” she said. Besides, she added, Han people make up more than 90% of the Chinese population, so “it’s not weird” that Hanfu is so popular.

“It’s part of globalization,” she said. “We all wear T-shirts, but can you say we are all Americanized?”

Whether or not Hanfu is inherently political and racialized, the ongoing debate reflects the complexity of fashion and trends. Fashion doesn’t exist in a vacuum — it shapes and is shaped by social, economic, and political events. And the crucial question here, experts argue, is whether Han dominance in the popular imagination of what being “Chinese” means, comes at the expense of other ethnic narratives.

“This country is not opening up any more, it’s closing down — so the emphasis of the dominant culture is once again reinforced,” said Ling. “We hear a lot about representation of ethnicities… but the people in power in China are the Han Chinese.”

Restaurant stripped of its three Michelin stars

(CNN) — It was perhaps the biggest shock of this year’s annual Michelin star ratings. The Araki, a sushi restaurant in London’s Mayfair, had been stripped of all three of its Michelin stars.

The restaurant — one of London’s smallest, seating just 10 people at the chef’s counter, plus up to six in a private room for regular guests — was opened in 2014 by Mitsuhiro Araki. It is one of the hottest tickets in the city for those who can afford the £310 ($388) per head cost for its omakase (tasting menu).

Araki — who had previously owned a three-star restaurant in Tokyo, and won his first star in London within a year of opening the restaurant — had moved to Hong Kong in March 2019 to open another restaurant.

He was replaced by his protégé Marty Lau, who has worked with him since 2015 and was described as “phenomenally capable” by GQ magazine earlier this year.

‘Fair judgment and a fresh start’

Lau told CNN that it was “a shame” to have been deleted from the 2020 guide. “But we take it as a fair judgment and a fresh start following the departure of our master Mitsuhiro Araki,” he said.

“We believed it placed Michelin in a difficult position to make a decision on how to score The Araki, as the master was here during half of the inspection period for 2020’s guide.”

The restaurant has not asked Michelin for an explanation, he said. “It’s their guide, and we’re in total respect of how they want to do it. I’m taking it on the chin and getting on with proving myself.

“Lots of chefs are devastated when they lose stars, but you’ll get nowhere with that attitude. You have to dust yourself off and try again.”

He added that plenty of regular customers are still coming, and said, “As important as Michelin is, we will always put the guests who come to The Araki above all else. At the end of the day, they will be the ones to judge us and decide our fate.

“What we hope the public understands that Master Araki has left the sushi-ya to the team that has followed him since the beginning. He is resolute in taking this situation as a great opportunity for us to earn our own accolades in our own light and not in his shadow.

A ‘constant evolution’

Lau joined the restaurant shortly after it opened, and told CNN that today, “everything is done in the style of how he taught me.

“When he arrived in London he had to get used to new ingredients so there was a constant evolution for him, and we were part of that journey. All that ethos has been transferred to us. We’re grateful for all the supportive messages our regular guests have sent us and we will continue to keep doing our best.”

The Araki isn’t the only London restaurant to be dropped from the guide. Also in London, Galvin at Windows, inside the Hilton Park Lane, lost its single star, as did Benares, an Indian restaurant in Mayfair. Five restaurants in the UK have been awarded three stars for the 2020 guide.

A spokesperson for Michelin did not respond to a request for comment.

Annotated: What’s in the indictment of two Rudy Giuliani associates

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

– v. –

LEV PARNAS,
IGOR FRUMAN,
DAVID CORREIA, and
ANDREY KUKUSHKIN,

Defendants.

The Grand Jury charges:

INTRODUCTION

  1. Through its election laws, Congress prohibits foreign nationals from making contributions, donations, and certain expenditures in connection with federal, State, and local elections, and prohibits anyone from making contributions in the name of another. Congress further requires public reporting through the Federal Election Commission (the “FEC”) of the sources and amounts of contributions and expenditures made in connection with federal elections. A purpose of these laws, taken together, is to protect the United States electoral system from illegal foreign financial influence, and to further inform all candidates, their campaign committees, federal regulators, and the public of (i) the true sources of contributions to candidates for federal office; and (ii) any effort by foreign nationals to influence federal, State, or local elections with foreign money.

US election laws are quite simple. Candidates cannot solicit help from foreign governments, and private foreign citizens aren’t allowed to contribute to US elections. And, for transparency purposes, there is supposed to be names associated with contributions. FEC puts the data online. But websites like OpenSecrets are a little more user-friendly.

  1. LEV PARNAS, IGOR FRUMAN, DAVID CORREIA, and ANDREY KUKUSHKIN, the defendants, conspired to circumvent the federal laws against foreign influence by engaging in a scheme to funnel foreign money to candidates for federal and State office so that the defendants could buy potential influence with candidates, campaigns, and the candidates’ governments. The defendants concealed the scheme from the candidates, campaigns, federal regulators, and the public by entering into secret agreements, laundering foreign money through bank accounts in the names of limited liability corporations, and through the use of straw donors (also known as “conduits” or “straw contributors”) who purported to make legal campaign contributions in their own names, rather than in the name of the true source of the funds.

If you’ve been paying close attention to the Ukraine scandal, you know the names Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman. They helped Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani push conspiracy theories about Hunter Biden, Joe Biden’s son. Parnas was described in a recent CNN profile as Giuliani’s “Ukrainian middleman.”

  1. LEV PARNAS and IGOR FRUMAN, the defendants, made additional contributions to federal candidates, joint fundraising committees, and independent expenditure committees that either (i) were intentionally funneled through, and made in the name of, a limited liability corporation to conceal that PARNAS and FRUMAN were the true source of contributions and skirt the federal reporting requirements; or (ii) were reported in PARNAS’s name but were funded by FROMAN, which allowed FRUMAN to exceed limits on contributions to candidates or committees to whom he had previously contributed. The defendants further concealed this aspect of the conspiracy by, among other things, making and causing others to make false statements to the FEC.

Parnas and Fruman are accused of hiding the source of contributions as well as exceeding contribution limits.

The timing of these indictments by the Department of Justice is incredible: House impeachment investigators have just subpoenaed Parnas and Fruman for testimony and documents concerning their involvement in Giuliani’s efforts in Ukraine. Parnas and Fruman have retained former Trump attorney John Dowd to help them with congressional requests.

THE CAMPAIGN FINANCE LAWS

  1. The Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971, as amended, Title 52, United States Code, Section 30101, et seq., (the “Election Act”), prohibits certain financial influences on the election of candidates for federal office.

You can read it right here.

  1. To prevent the influence of foreign nationals on elections, the Election Act prohibits foreign nationals, directly or indirectly, from making any contributions or donations in connection with federal, State, or local elections. Additionally, to limit the influence that any one person could have on the outcome of a federal election, the Election Act establishes limits on the amounts that even United States citizens or lawful permanent residents can contribute to a federal candidate and the candidate’s authorized committee, including joint fundraising committees, which are committees established for the purpose of fundraising for multiple committees at the same time.

An individual can give each candidate $2,800 under current rules in the 2019-2020 election cycle. There are different limits for different types of donors. The FEC has a chart. The rules also allow for super PACs, or “independent-expenditure-only committees.” They can raise and spend unlimited amounts of money from donors, but they can’t contribute to campaigns or coordinate with them.

  1. To prevent individuals from circumventing the Election Act, and to enable the detection of attempts to circumvent the Act, the Election Act also prohibits a person from making a political contribution in the name of another in connection with any federal election, including, for example, by giving funds to a straw donor for the purpose of having the straw donor pass the funds on to a federal candidate or to a candidate’s federal campaign committee or joint fundraising committee as a donation from the straw donor, rather than in the name of the true source of the money. The Election Act also prohibits contributing in the name of another to an independent expenditure committee spending to influence the outcome of that federal campaign.

The use of so-called straw donors is a real problem in US politics and a way around campaign finance laws. For instance, a Republican operative pleaded guilty to steering money from Ukraine to Trump’s inaugural committee.

  1. The FEC is an agency and department of the United States with jurisdiction to enforce the limits and prohibitions of the Election Act, in part by requiring candidates, joint fundraising committees, and independent expenditure committees to file regular reports of the sources and amounts of the contributions they receive. To deter abuses of the Election Act and instill public confidence in the election process against corruption and the appearance of corruption, the Election Act requires the FEC to publish the reports that it receives so that all of the candidates, the entire public, and law enforcement may all see the specific information about the amounts and sources of political contributions and expenditures involving federal candidates and registered political committees.

RELEVANT INDIVIDUALS AND ENTITIES

  1. LEV PARNAS, the defendant, is a businessman and United States citizen who was born in Ukraine.
  1. IGOR FRUMAN, the defendant, is a businessman and United States citizen who was born in Belarus.
  1. DAVID CORREIA, the defendant, is a businessman and United States citizen who was born in the United States.
  1. ANDREY KUKUSHKIN, the defendant, is a businessman and United States citizen who was born in Ukraine.
  1. Foreign National-1 is a foreign national Russian citizen and businessman who, at all relevant times, was not a citizen or lawful permanent resident of the United States.

The cast of characters in this indictment includes two Ukrainian-born US citizens, one US citizen born in Belarus, one natural-born American and one Russian.

THE STRAW DONOR SCHEME

  1. Beginning in or about March 2018, LEV PARNAS and IGOR FRUMAN, the defendants, began attending political fundraising events in connection with federal elections and making substantial contributions to candidates, joint fundraising committees, and independent expenditure committees with the purpose of enhancing their influence in political circles and gaining access to politicians. PARNAS and FRUMAN, who had no significant prior history of political donations, sought to advance their personal financial interests and the political interests of at least one Ukrainian government official with whom they were working. In order to conceal from third parties, including creditors, their sources of funding and capital, PARNAS and FRUMAN created a limited liability corporation, Global Energy Producers (“GEP”), and then intentionally caused certain large contributions to be reported in the name of GEP instead of in their own names.

The indictment tracks closely in places with a complaint filed with the FEC against Parnas and Fruman by the Campaign Legal Center, a Washington-based watchdog group, in July 2018. A complaint to the FEC like the one filed by the Campaign Legal Center is mentioned later in the indictment. The Daily Beast also published a very detailed profile of Global Energy Producers and their very large contribution to America First Action.

  1. Specifically, in or about May 2018, to obtain access to exclusive political events and gain influence with politicians, LEV PARNAS and IGOR FRUMAN, the defendants, made a $325,000 contribution to an independent expenditure committee (“Committee-1”) and a $15,000 contribution to a second independent expenditure committee (“Committee-2”). Despite the fact that the FEC forms for these contributions required PARNAS and FRUMAN to disclose the true donor of the funds, they falsely reported that the contributions came from GEP, a purported liquefied natural gas (“LNG”) import-export business that was incorporated by FROMAN and PARNAS around the time the contributions were made.

“Committee-1” is America First Action Inc., a super PAC closely aligned with Trump’s interests. It’s chaired by former Small Business Administrator Linda McMahon, and former White House press secretary Sean Spicer works there. You can see a $325,000 donation to America First Action in 2018 by Global Energy Producers on the OpenSecrets site. America First spokeswoman Kelly Sadler said in a statement that the funds had not been used and had been placed in a segregated account.

It is not yet clear what entity is referred to as “Committee-2.”

  1. In truth and in fact, the donations to Committee-1 and Committee-2 did not come from GEP funds. Rather, the funds came from a private lending transaction between FRUMAN and third parties, and never passed through a GEP account. Indeed, PARNAS and FRUMAN incorporated GEP at and around the time of the contributions to Comittee-1 and Committee-2, and deliberately made the contributions in GEP’s name, in order to evade the reporting requirements under the Election Act and to conceal that they were the true source of the contributions. At that time, GEP had not engaged in the LNG business, and had no income or significant assets.

Parnas and Fruman were pushing for an investigation of the Ukrainian natural gas company Burisma, which used to employ Hunter Biden on its board. They said they were interested in getting into the natural gas game themselves, and had pitched gas deals in Ukraine, according to The New York Times.

  1. LEV PARNAS and IGOR FRUMAN, the defendants, intentionally reported that the contributions came from GEP to hide from creditors the fact that they had access to funding, and to conceal from the public and the FEC their involvement in making these contributions. Indeed, when media reports about the GEP contributions first surfaced, an individual working with PARNAS remarked, “(t]his is what happens when you become visible … the buzzards descend,” to which PARNAS responded, “[t]hat’s why we need to stay under the radar…”

It’s not clear where these conversations come from. The initial media reports referenced in the indictment could be a Daily Beast article published in July 2018. Regardless, giving $325,000 to a super PAC allied with Trump is a strange way of staying under the radar. Fruman was feted at a donor event at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida and shared pictures on social media.

  1. In addition to the contributions made and falsely reported in the name of GEP, LEV PARNAS and IGOR FRUMAN, the defendants, caused illegal contributions to be made in PARNAS’s name that, in fact, were funded by FRUMAN, in order to evade federal contribution limits. Much as with the contributions described above, these contributions were made for the purpose of gaining influence with politicians so as to advance their own personal financial interests and the political interests of Ukrainian government officials, including at least one Ukrainian government official with whom they were working.

The former prosecutor who teased a possible new investigation of the natural gas company that employed Hunter Biden once told The Washington Post he met with Fruman and Parnas. But it’s not clear whether that’s the person prosecutors are referring to here.

For example, in or about May and June 2018, PARNAS and FRUMAN committed to raise $20,000 or more for a then-sitting U.S. Congressman (“Congressman- 1”), who had also been the beneficiary of approximately $3 million in independent expenditures by Committee-1 during the 2018 election cycle. PARNAS and FRUMAN had met Congressman-1 at an event sponsored by an independent expenditure committee to which FRUMAN had recently made a substantial contribution.1 During the 2018 election cycle, Congressman-1 had been the beneficiary of approximately $3 million in independent expenditures by Committee-1.

Congressman-1 appears to be Republican Rep. Pete Sessions of Texas, the former chairman of the powerful House Rules Committee. He lost his reelection campaign in 2018, but he’s running to get his old job back in 2020. America First Action spent more than $3 million on Sessions’ behalf, according to FEC records. Sessions is not charged with any wrongdoing and said he had no knowledge of any scheme.

They also contributed $50,000 to a committee aligned with former Congressman Ron DeSantis, a close Trump ally who is now governor of Florida, according to the Campaign Legal Center complaint. DeSantis is returning the money, according to the Sun-Sentinel.

At and around the same time PARNAS and FRUMAN committed to raising those funds for Congressman-1 PARNAS met with Congressman-1 and sought Congressman-1’s assistance in causing the U.S. Government to remove or recall the then-U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine (the “Ambassador”).

The ambassador in May 2018 was Marie Yovanovitch. She was appointed in 2016 and recalled by Trump this past spring. The Wall Street Journal reported that Trump specifically recalled Yovanovitch after complaints by Giuliani and others.

Trump mentioned Yovanovitch during his July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. “The former ambassador from the United States, the woman, was bad news and the people she was dealing with in the Ukraine were bad news so I just want to let you know that,” Trump said, according to a White House transcript. “I agree with you 100%,” Zelensky answered. “She’s going to go through some things,” Trump added.

CNN has documented Sessions’ efforts to remove Yovanovitch.

PARNAS’s efforts to remove the Ambassador were conducted, at least in part, at the request of one or more Ukrainian government officials. Moreover, in an effort to reach their contribution commitment to Congressman-1 and further their political goals, in or about June 2018, after FRUMAN had already made a maximum $2,700 contribution to Congressman-1, FRUMAN paid for another maximum $2,700 contribution to Congressman-1 that was made and reported in PARNAS’s name.

It’s not clear which Ukranian officials they are referring to. But there is one Ukrainian official we know interacted with Parnas and Fruman and was also frustrated by Yovanovitch. Yuriy Lutsenko, Ukraine’s former top prosecutor, complained about her to US media. The Washington Post reported Parnas helped set up a meeting between Lutsenko and Giuliani.

  1. Similarly, in or about June 2018, to fulfill a financial commitment to gain access to an exclusive political event, LEV PARNAS and IGOR FRUMAN, the defendants, made an $11,000 contribution in PARNAS’s name to a joint fundraising committee (“Committee-3”) that was actually funded by FRUMAN. As a result of that contribution and a prior contribution FRUMAN had made to Committee-3 in his own name, FRUMAN made contributions in excess of legal contribution limits.

In June 2018, Parnas gave $11,000 to Protect the House, a Republican Party committee that was formed by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy. The indictment suggests the $11,000 actually came from Fruman. McCarthy said Thursday that the money would be donated to charity.

  1. Moreover, and to further conceal the true source of the funds used to make certain of the donations described above, in or about October 2018, LEV PARNAS and IGOR FRUMAN, the defendants, submitted materially false sworn affidavits to the FEC. Specifically, and in response to a complaint filed with the FEC regarding the $325,000 contribution to Committee-1 described in paragraph 14, above, and the $2,700 donation to Congressman-1 made in the name of PARNAS, described in paragraph 17, above, PARNAS and FRUMAN made the following false statements, in substance and in part:

The complaint appears to line up in places with the one from the Campaign Legal Center, though that’s not spelled out. A complaint to the FEC like the one filed by the Campaign Legal Center is mentioned in the indictment.

a. That “a $325,000 contribution to [Committee- 1] . . was made with GEP funds for GEP purposes,” when in truth and in fact, the contribution was made with funds from a private lending transaction for the purposes described in paragraph 17, above.

The Associated Press reported on the likely funding scheme and said it related to loans secured by high-rise condos in Florida. You can read it on the Washington Post website. The funding scheme was discovered during an unrelated lawsuit involving a Navy veteran in New York, who said Parnas defrauded him using a fake Hollywood movie project.

b. That “GEP is a real business enterprise funded with substantial bona fide capital investment; its major purpose is energy trading, not political activity,” when in truth and in fact, GEP had no existing business, was not funded with bona fide capital investment, and was not engaged in energy trading, as described in paragraph 15, above.

The indictment alleges that the company used to give money to the Trump-aligned super PAC was essentially a shell to funnel political donations.

c. That a contribution made by PARNAS on or about June 25, 2018 to [Congressman-1] “was made with a business credit card which [PARNAS] reimbursed,” when in truth and in fact, PARNAS did not reimburse FRUMAN or any other individual for that contribution.

THE FOREIGN NATIONAL DONOR SCHEME

  1. From in or about June 2018 through April 2019, LEV PARNAS, IGOR FRUMAN, DAVID CORREIA, and ANDREY KUKUSHKIN, the defendants, and others known and unknown, conspired to make political donations – funded by Foreign National-1 – to politicians and candidates for federal and State office to gain influence with candidates as to policies that would benefit a future business venture. Moreover, and to conceal the true source of the contributions and donations funded by Foreign National-1, PARNAS, FRUMAN, CORREIA, and KUKOSHKIN caused the contributions and donations to be made in the defendants’ names rather than in the name of Foreign National-1.

It is not clear who Foreign National-1 is other than that the individual is a Russian. There has been very little reporting on Kukushkin or Correia at this point. Here’s the latest CNN reporting on who’s who in this indictment.

  1. Beginning in or around July 2018, LEV PARNAS, IGOR FRUMAN, DAVID CORREIA, and ANDREY KUKUSHKIN, the defendants, made plans to form a recreational marijuana business that would be funded by Foreign National-1 and required gaining access to retail marijuana licenses in particular States, including Nevada (the “Business Venture”). In early September 2018, PARNAS, FRUMAN, CORREIA, KUKUSHKIN, and Foreign National-1 met in Las Vegas, Nevada to discuss the Business Venture. While in Las Vegas, PARNAS, FRUMAN, and KUKUSHKIN also attended a political fundraiser for a State candidate in Nevada (“Candidate-1”). Shortly after that meeting, PARNAS, FRUMAN, CORREIA, and KUKOSHKIN began to formalize the Business Venture with Foreign National-1 and fund their lobbying efforts, but took steps to hide Foreign National-1’s involvement in the Business Venture, including any political contributions associated with the Business Venture, due to, in KUKUSHKIN’s words, “his Russian roots and current political paranoia about it.”

It appears from state records that Candidate-1 was Republican Adam Laxalt, who unsuccessfully ran for governor in 2018. A spokesman said Laxalt “doesn’t know the man.” Marijuana is legal in Nevada.

  1. To further the Business Venture, LEV PARNAS, IGOR FRUMAN, DAVID CORREIA, and ANDREY KUKUSHKIN, the defendants, planned to use Foreign National-1 as a source of funding for donations and contributions to State and federal candidates and politicians in Nevada, New York and other States to facilitate acquisitions of retail marijuana licenses. In or about September and October 2018, CORREIA drafted a table of political donations and contributions, which was subsequently circulated to the defendants and Foreign National-1. The table described a “multi­ state license strategy” to further the Business Venture. The table contemplated approximately between $1 and $2 million in political contributions to federal and State political committees. The table also included a “funding” schedule of two $500,000 transfers. Foreign National-1 then arranged for two $500,000 wires on or about September 18, 2018 and October 16, 2018 to be sent from overseas accounts to a U.S. corporate bank account controlled by FRUMAN and another individual (the “FRUMAN Account”)

Eleven states and the District of Columbia have legalized recreational marijuana.

  1. LEV PARNAS, IGOR FRUMAN, DAVID CORREIA, and ANDREY KUKUSHKIN, the defendants, then used those funds transferred by Foreign National-1, in part, to attempt to gain influence and the appearance of influence with politicians and candidates. For example, on or about October 20, 2018, PARNAS, FRUMAN, and KUKUSHKIN attended a campaign rally for Candidate-1 in Nevada, at which a different Nevada State candidate was present (“Candidate- 2”), and sent photographs of themselves posing with Candidate-2 to Foreign National-1. Following that event, on or about November 1, 2018, a donation in the amount of $10,000 was made to Candidate- 2 in FRUMAN’s name, but it was funded with funds from Foreign National-1. On or about November 1, 2018, a donation in the amount of $10,000 was made to Candidate-1 in FRUMNA’s name, but it was funded with funds from Foreign National-1.

Candidate-2 is Wes Duncan, who ran for attorney general in 2018 and lost.

  1. Notwithstanding the purported purpose of Business Venture-1 and the donations described above, LEV PARNAS, IGOR FRUMAN, DAVID CORREIA, and ANDREY KUKUSHKIN, the defendants, did not timely apply for a recreational marijuana license in September 2018, the then-deadline for such applications in Nevada. On or about October 25, 2018, KUKUSHKIN told Foreign National-1, as well as LEV PARNAS and IGOR FRUMAN, the defendants, that they were “2 months too late to the game unless we change the rules,” and noted that they needed a particular Nevada State official, the position for which Candidate-1 was running, to “green light to implement this.” As noted above, FRUMAN made a $10,000 donation, funded by Foreign National-1, to Candidate-1 on or about November l, 2018. On or about November 4, 2018, PARNAS asked KUKUSHKIN to arrange for additional funding from Foreign National-1 to make an additional donation to Candidate-1, to which KUKUSHKIN responded that the $1 million Foreign National-1 had already provided to GEP was “in order to cover all the donations whatsoever.”

The candidates they donated to were running for governor and attorney general. It appears that when they asked for more money, the Russian balked. He or she had already given $1 million. Again, both Laxalt and Duncan lost.

  1. Moreover, subsequent communications between Foreign National-1, and ANDREY KUKUSHKIN, LEV PARNAS, IGOR FRUMAN, and DAVID CORREIA, the defendants, confirm the defendants’ use of foreign funds – and, in particular, funds from Foreign National-1 – to make the donations described above. For example, on or about October 30, 2018, Foreign National-1 wrote to PARNAS, FRUMAN, and KUKUSHKIN that he had “fulfilled all my obligations completely,” including “500 [for] Nevada” in order to “work on obtaining licenses [in] these states.” KUKUSHKIN similarly noted in response that “Money transferred by [Foreign National-1] to [GEP] was to support the very specific people & states (per [FRUMAN’s] table) in order to obtain green light for licensing. I haven’t changed any rules of our engagement and was present at all the scheduled meetings with officials in Nevada.” Although PARNAS, FRUMAN, CORREIA, and Foreign National-1 continued to meet into the spring of 2019, the Business Venture did not come to fruition.

COUNT ONE

(Conspiracy)

  1. From in or about March 2018 through at least in or about November 2018, in the Southern District of New York and elsewhere, LEV PARNAS and IGOR FRUMAN, the defendants, knowingly conspired with each other and with others known and unknown to:

a. Knowingly defraud the United States by impairing, obstructing, and defeating the lawful functions of a department or agency of the United States; to wit, the FEC’s function to administer federal law concerning source and amount restrictions in federal elections, including the prohibitions applicable to straw donors.

They allegedly broke laws that restrict foreigners from donating, that restrict how much a person can donate and that are there to ensure there is transparency in the system.

b. Knowingly and willfully make contributions to candidates for federal office, joint fundraising committees, and independent expenditure committees in the names of other persons, aggregating to $25,000 and more in a calendar year, in violation of Title 52, United States Code, Section 30122 and 30109 (a) (1) (A).

By donating in Parnas’ name, Fruman allegedly donated too much money to Protect the House, the Republican committee.

  1. In furtherance of the conspiracy and to effect the illegal objects thereof, LEV PARNAS and IGOR FRUMAN, the defendants, and others known and unknown, committed the following overt acts, among others, in the Southern District of New York and elsewhere:

a. In or about March 2018, PARNAS committed to making a $125,000 contribution to Committee-3 to attend a fundraising event in the Southern District of New York.

b. In or about May 2018, FRUMAN, and others known and unknown, obtained a private loan, the proceeds of which were used to fund the contribution made in the name of GEP to Committee- 1,

c. In or about May 2018, FRUMAN and PARNAS, and others known and unknown, transferred the proceeds of FRUMAN’s private loan through multiple bank accounts – none of which were in the name of GEP – to conceal the true source of the funds before they were paid to Committee-1.

d. In or about May 2018, PARNAS caused a $325,000 contribution to Committee-1 to be falsely reported in the name of GEP.

Committee-1, again, is the Trump-aligned super PAC America First Action.

e. In or about June 2018, PARNAS made an $11,000 contribution to Committee-3 using funds that belonged to FRUMAN and another individual.

It is not clear how the prosecutors know the money came from Fruman and not Parnas.

f. In or about June 2018, PARNAS used a business credit card registered to a credit card account, with a registered address in the Southern District of New York, belonging to FRUMAN and another individual in order to make a maximum $2,700 contribution to Congressman-l’s reelection campaign.

(Title 18, United States Code, Section 371, and Title 52, United States Code, Sections 30122 and 30109(d) (1) (A) & (D))

COUNT TWO

(False Statements to the FEC)

The Grand Jury further charges:

  1. The Grand Jury incorporates the allegations contained in paragraphs 1 through 19 of this Indictment as though fully set forth herein.
  1. In or about October 2018, in the Southern District of New York and elsewhere, LEV PARNAS and IGOR FRUMAN, the defendants, willfully and knowingly. did make materially false, fictitious, and fraudulent statements and representations in a matter within the jurisdiction of the executive branch of the Government of the United States, to wit, PARNAS and FRUMAN made the materially false statements in their affidavits submitted to the FEC, described in paragraph 19 above, that ‘’a $325,000 contribution to [Committee-1) was made with GEP funds for GEP purposes;” that “GEP is a real business enterprise funded with substantial bona fide capital investment; its major purpose is energy trading, not political activity”; and that a contribution made by PARNAS on or about June 25, 2018 to Congressman-1’s campaign for reelection “was made with a business credit card . . . which [PARNAS] reimbursed.”

(Title 18, United States Code, Sections l00l(a) (2) and 2)

COUNT THREE

(Falsification of Records)

The Grand Jury further charges:

  1. The Grand Jury incorporates the allegations contained in paragraphs 1 through 19 of this Indictment as though fully set forth herein.
  1. ln or about October 2018, in the Southern District of New York and elsewhere, LEV PARNAS and IGOR FRUMAN, the defendants, willfully and knowingly did falsify and make a false entry in a record and document with the intent to impede, obstruct, or influence the investigation or proper administration of a matter within the jurisdiction of any department or agency of the United States, and in relation to and in contemplation of any such matter, to wit, PARNAS and FROMAN made the materially false statements in affidavits submitted to the FEC, described in paragraph 19 above, including that ‘’a $325,000 contribution to [Committee-1] . . . was made with GEP funds for GEP purposes;” that “GEP is a real business enterprise funded with substantial bona fide capital investment; its major purpose is energy trading, not political activity”; and that a contribution made by PARNAS on or about June 25, 2018 to Congressman-l’s campaign for reelection “was made with a business credit card . which [PARNAS] reimbursed,” with the intent to impede, obstruct, or influence the investigation and proper administration of a matter within the jurisdiction of the FEC.

(Title 18, United States Code, Sections 1519 and 2)

COUNT FOUR

(Conspiracy)

The Grand Jury further charges:

  1. The Grand Jury incorporates the allegations contained in paragraphs 1 through 12 and 20 through 25 of this Indictment as though fully set forth herein.
  1. From in or about June 2018 through at least in or about April 2019, in the Southern District of New York and elsewhere, LEV PARNAS, IGOR FRUMAN, DAVID CORREIA, and ANDREY KUKUSHKIN, the defendants, and others known and unknown, knowingly conspired with each other and with others known and unknown to:

a. Kowingly defraud the United States by impairing, obstructing, and defeating the lawful functions of a department or agency of the United States; to wit, the FEC’s function to administer federal law concerning source and amount restrictions in federal and State elections, including the prohibitions applicable to foreign nationals and straw donors.

b. Knowingly and willfully make contributions and donations of money, or express or implied promises to make contributions or donations, directly and indirectly, by a foreign national in connection with federal and State elections, aggregating to $25,000 and more in a calendar year, in violation of Title 52, United States Code, Sections 30121 and 30109(a)(1)(A).

c. Knowingly and willfully make contributions to candidates for State and federal office, joint fundraising committees, and independent expenditure committees in the names of other persons, aggregating to $25,000 and more in a calendar year, in violation of Title 52, United States Code, Section 30122 and 30109(a)(1) (A)(D).

  1. In furtherance of the conspiracy and to effect its illegal object, LEV PARNAS, IGOR FRUMAN, DAVID CORREIA, and ANDREY KUKUSHKIN, the defendants, and others known and unknown, committed the following overt acts, among others, in the Southern District of New York and elsewhere:

a. On or about September 18, 2018, Foreign National-1 wired $500,000 from a foreign bank account, through the Southern District of New York, to the defendants for purposes of making political contributions and donations.

b. On or about October 16, 2018, Foreign National-1 wired $500,000 from a foreign bank account, through the Southern District of New York, to the defendants for purposes of making political contributions and donations.

c. On or about November 1, 2018, the defendants used funds wired by Foreign National-1 to make maximum donations to two political candidates for State office in Nevada.

(Title 18, United States Code, Section 371, and Title 52, United States Code, Sections 30121, 30122 and 30109(d) (1) (A))

GEOFFREY S. BERMAN

United States Attorney

Berman is the US attorney for the Southern District of New York. His former law partner? Rudy Giuliani. He was a Trump donor, but Trump did not nominate him to his powerful post. Rather, judges in New York selected him when Trump failed to nominate anyone.

1 In fact; the contribution and several other significant contributions made at and around the same time – was made in the name of “Igor Furman” not IGOR FRUMAN, the defendant, in a further effort to conceal the source of the funds and to evade federal reporting requirements.

Trump tweets about his accomplishments as he faces impeachment probe

Doug Mills/Pool/Getty Images/File Doug Mills/Pool/Getty Images/File

Trump’s lawyers may have written a letter to Democrats saying that the President “remains focused on fulfilling his promises to the American people” but Trump himself has shown few signs he is redirecting focus to governing.

Similar to his erratic behavior during the Mueller probe, the President has spent hours tweeting about the impeachment and lighting up the phone lines of his allies on Capitol Hill — including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

Trump is calling the Majority Leader up to three times a day and making political threats, a source says.

McConnell has told a small number of Republicans about the President’s calls.

However, a spokesperson for McConnell has denied that Trump is increasingly leaning on the Republican leader in the Senate.

This story, based on a single anonymous source, is categorically false. Leader McConnell never said anything like this,” Doug Andres said.

Trump has been lashing out at GOP senators he sees as disloyal, according to the person familiar with the conversations, telling McConnell he will amplify attacks on those Republicans who criticize him.

McConnell faces his own dilemma of having to preserve the Republican majority in the Senate, while also placating an erratic President who demands nothing short of total loyalty. That will become harder as more details about Trump’s dealings with Ukraine trickle out.

Trump has already demonstrated his willingness to go after Republican defectors. After Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, said it was “wrong and appalling” for Trump to suggest Ukraine and China investigate Joe Biden, Trump unloaded, calling Romney a “pompous ass” and suggesting Romney himself be impeached.

Trump has also been mistrustful of Republicans who are reticent to defend him publicly, often lamenting that Democrats are much better at staying in line with their party heads than his own.

Read more on this story.