2019-10-08 18:31:461 Oct 2018 01:53 AM EST
Sure, it may seem like Rudy Giuliani just pulls this information out of a hat, but he really is receiving the information from someone else, or rather two someones. Two Florida businessmen with ties to Ukraine fed Donald Trump's personal attorney the information about former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
What's notable here is that one is a former opponent of Trump's and the other is a projected opponent of Trump's. Giuliani was known to be chasing the information regarding the Bidens in Ukraine back in May. In July Trump called Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and asked him to investigate both.
The phone call is now the source of an impeachment inquiry. Trump is reported to have also withheld aid from Ukraine, waiting for that information.
Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman had supplied that information to Giuliani. Three House committees asked for documents and depositions from them for the impeachment inquiry, but they did not comply by a Monday deadline for the documents and don't plan to show up for the Thurday and Friday depositions, according to their attorney John Dowd.
If you know you've heard that last name before, it's because he helped defend Trump during the Russia investigation. He just started representing the two businessmen last week.
Democrats said this will likely lead to subpoenas for Parnas and Fruman. The will be compelled to testify or face criminal charges.
"While we have engaged with counsels for these witnesses, they have so far refused to agree to testify or turn over relevant documents. If they continue to fail to comply, they will be served with subpoenas in short order," promised an official working on the impeachment inquiry.
On October 3 Dowd emailed the House Intelligence Committee and said he was getting caught up with the two businessmen's legal situation and that it "will take some time." Their discussions with Giuliani would be covered by "attorney-client, attorney work and other privileges."
Additionally, Dowd referred to the document request as "overly broad and unduly burdensome." He added that he reached the "inescapable conclusion that the Democratic Committee members' intent is to harass, intimidate, and embarrass my clients."
Last month Parnas told the Miami Herald that Ukraine's government has access to information detailing alleged behavior of the Bidens and other U.S officials overseas, yet the U.S. government was indifferent to receiving it through official means.
He added that his and Fruman's friendship with Giuliani was their way to get the information into the Trump administration's hands.
"I got certain information, and I thought it was my duty to hand it over," he said on September 16.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also complained about not having enough time to prepare. He said last week the Democrats were harassing professional diplomats.
He did not turn over documents that were requested of him, then didn't honor a subpoena, and indicated he would not allow diplomats to provide testimony either.
Parnas and Fruman are Soviet-born Ukrainians who are now American citizens. They acted as couriers for Giuliani, who let it be known he was looking for dirt on the Bidens in Ukraine.
A third Florida businessman may be involved as well. Oil magnate Harry Sargeant III from Boca Raton is a GOP donor and does business with Parnas and Fruman. He worked with them to eliminate the CEO of a Ukrainian energy company, Naftogaz, and replace him with someone they expected to go along with their desire to get contracts.
Sargeant has said he regularly meets with the U.S. president at Mar-a-Lago and has his support.
Tallahassee attorney Christopher M. Kise represents Sargeant and said he was approached at a Houston conference in March by Fruman and Parnas for his industry views. He is not a partner nor a party to any Ukraine business, however, and has not visited Trump at Mar-a-Lago since he became president.
"Attending a single, informal dinner in Houston does not place Mr. Sargeant at the center of any Naftogaz or Ukrainian business plan," said Kise.
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