Two Ukrainian businessmen linked to Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani arrested

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U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman told reporters Thursday that businessmen Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman were about to board an worldwide fight from Virginia with one-way tickets when they were detained at 6 p.m. Wednesday.

The men were arrested on a four-count indictment, including charges of conspiracy, making false statements to the Federal Election Commission and falsification of records.

This screenshot shows Igor Fruman, a Soviet-born South Florida businessman, with Donald Trump. Giuliani reportedly met with the associates, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, for lunch the day of their arrest.

The Atlantic reported that Giuliani said he "can't comment on it at this time" about the circumstances of his planned trip after multiple attempts to contact him Thursday. A second screen shot shows Parnas and Fruman with Donald Trump Jr., the president's eldest son, three weeks later.

They gave hundreds of thousands in donations to a Trump-allied super PAC, according to the Miami Herald. "I don't know about them", the president told reporters outside the White House. They know the Ukraine, they speak Russian.

"I will say this, from what I heard", he added, before pointing at himself and saying: "They said we had nothing to do with it".

Democrats have accused Mr Trump of pressuring a vulnerable foreign ally to dig up dirt on a domestic political opponent for his own political benefit.

John Dowd, a lawyer for Parnas and Fruman, did not respond to a request for comment.

Though the indictment does not indicate political parties, previous lawsuits identify Fruman as an invited guest of the president at his golf resort Mar-a-Lago.

Parnas and Fruman's shell company Global Energy Producers (GEP) allegedly contributed $325,000 and $15,000 to separate committees in May 2018, "to obtain access to exclusive political events and gain influence with politicians", the indictment says.

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The New York case also involves two of Giuliani's business associates who were taken into custody this week as they tried to fly out of the country, Ukraine-born Lev Parnas and Belarus-born Igor Fruman, both naturalized US citizens.

Hours earlier, they demanded that Parnas and Fruman appear for depositions next Wednesday and hand over records related to their work with Mr Giuliani.

Sessions said he did seek Yovanovitch's removal but it was because she was "disparaging President Trump to others". It was unclear whether she would testify.

But according to a lawsuit, the corporation wasn't the true source of the money.

Accepting money from non-Americans for political campaigns is a federal crime in the US.

Trump also said he hadn't talked to Giuliani about the matter and said, "We have nothing to do with it".

They are due in court in NY next week. But his 2008 Republican presidential bid flopped.

But pictures have emerged showing Trump with the men, including one showing Parnas with Trump at the White House in May 2018.

In recent months, Mr Giuliani has made countless media appearances on behalf of the president, many of them weird and heated.

Two Giuliani associates were arrested while trying to flee the country on Wednesday and indicted on federal campaign finance charges.

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