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Trump distances himself from indicted Giuliani associates

The Hill logo The Hill 5 days ago Brett Samuels and Morgan Chalfant

Video by Reuters

President Trump says that he doesn't know the two business associates of his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani who were arrested on campaign finance charges but acknowledged he may have been photographed with them at some point.

"I don't know those gentleman. Now it's possible I have a picture with them because I have a picture with everybody," Trump told reporters on the South Lawn of the White House Thursday afternoon.

"I don't know, maybe they were clients of Rudy's. You'd have to ask Rudy," he continued.

A photograph of Trump smiling with Giuliani and the businessmen, Igor Fruman and Lev Parnas, has been published by various news sites.

Fruman and Parnas were arrested late Wednesday on charges that they conspired to illegally funnel foreign money to U.S. politicians in order to buy political influence.

Donald Trump wearing a suit and tie: Trump distances himself from indicted Giuliani associates © Getty Images Trump distances himself from indicted Giuliani associates The indictment unsealed by federal prosecutors in Manhattan alleges that they and two other 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 the candidates, campaigns, and the candidates' governments."

Fruman and Parnas are business associates of Giuliani who reportedly worked with him to press Ukraine to investigate unsubstantiated allegations against former Vice President Joe Biden and 2016 election interference.

The indictment unsealed Thursday does not name Giuliani nor does it claim he knew of or was involved in the alleged scheme. But the developments have increased scrutiny on Trump's personal attorney and the connections between the president's inner circle and the two businessmen.

Photographs of Frumas and Parnas with Donald Trump Jr., the president's eldest son, have also circulated on social media.

Frumas and Parnas, who donated to a political action committee that supported Trump, were arrested at Dulles International Airport Wednesday before boarding an international flight with one-way tickets. They made an initial appearance in court Thursday afternoon in Virginia.

Federal prosecutors in Manhattan said during a news conference Thursday that their investigation is ongoing.


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