Giuliani associates plead not guilty to campaign finance charges

New York — Two business associates of Rudy Giuliani pleaded not guilty in federal court to charges they illegally funneled foreign donations to political committees supporting President Trump and other Republicans.

Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, wearing dark suits and ties and flanked by their attorneys, were arraigned on the federal indictment in U.S. District Court in Manhattan.

“I look forward to defending myself in court,” Parnas said outside the courthouse following the arraignment. “I’m certain that in time the truth will be revealed and I will be vindicated. In the end I put my faith in God.”

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Parnas was joined by his attorney Joseph Bondy who said he looks forward to defending Parnas “based on the evidence,” not “a smear campaign driven by misleading self serving leaks apparently from the highest levels of government.”

Parnas and Fruman were arrested earlier this month at Dulles International Airport as they were preparing to board oversees flights. They exchanged a few words together as they sat at the defense table with their attorneys. Fruman is represented by Todd Blanche, who is also representing Paul Manafort in a financial fraud case.

Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman sit with their lawyers during their arraignment at the U.S. Courthouse in New York City on October 23, 2019. JANE ROSENBERG / REUTERS

During the arraignment proceeding, Parnas’ other attorney Edward MacMahon raised the issue of executive privilege, with the court noting that Parnas worked for Giuliani and Giuliani works for Mr. Trump, a matter that may require the Department of Justice and the White House counsel’s office to get involved.

MacMahon also told the court the issue of client-attorney privilege may also arise in the case, given that Giuliani is Mr. Trump’s personal attorney and Parnas was also using Giuliani as an attorney.

The federal prosecutor told U.S. District Judge Paul Oetken that the evidence gathered thus far is “voluminous” and includes 50 bank accounts and more than a dozen search warrants executed at numerous physical premises.

The prosecutor, Rebekah Donaleski, said the government has a filter team in place to safeguard attorney-client material that should remain privileged.

Parnas and Fruman were each released on $1 million bond and surrendered their passports. Oetken set December 2 as their next court date.

Parnas and Fruman are both U.S. citizens. Parnas 46, was born in Ukraine and Fruman, 53, in Belarus. They were charged along with two other defendants.

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