POLITICS

Trump: I Don't Know The Giuliani Associates, But I Might Have A Picture With Them

The president does have pictures with Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, who were arrested on federal campaign finance charges while trying to leave the country.

President Donald Trump said Thursday that he doesn’t know Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, but it’s “possible I have a picture with them because I have a picture with everybody.”

The two Soviet-born Florida businessmen, who are known associates of Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, were arrested Thursday as they tried to leave the U.S. with one-way tickets to Vienna. They were indicted on federal campaign finance charges that allege they conspired to funnel foreign money to pro-Trump and Republican groups and filed false disclosures about the hundreds of thousands of dollars in political contributions.

Parnas and Fruman introduced Giuliani to top Ukrainian political circles, according to multiple reports. And Parnas told the Miami Herald last month that he provided the Trump administration with information on alleged wrongdoing by Trump’s 2020 rival Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden, via his friendship with Giuliani.

When quizzed by reporters on his relationship with the pair following their arrest Thursday, the president was on the defensive. 

“I don’t know those gentlemen. Now, it’s possible I have a picture with them, because I have a picture with everybody, I have a picture with everybody here, but somebody said there may be a picture or something at a fundraiser or somewhere, but I have pictures with everybody. I don’t know if there’s anybody I don’t have pictures with,” he said, as seen in a clip posted by ABC.

“I don’t know them, I don’t know about them, I don’t know what they do, but, uh, I don’t know, maybe they were clients of Rudy, you’d have to ask Rudy. I just don’t know.”

Images of Trump with the pair have since been circulated. One image, posted on Facebook by Parnas in May 2018, shows the businessman with Trump at the White House. He thanked the president for an “incredible dinner and even better conversation.”

Ukrainian-American businessman Lev Parnas is seen in a 2018 social media post appearing to show him at the White House with P
Ukrainian-American businessman Lev Parnas is seen in a 2018 social media post appearing to show him at the White House with President Donald Trump in a screen capture from his social media account made in 2018 by the Campaign Legal Center and released after his arrest Thursday.

Parnas, Fruman, Giuliani and Trump are pictured together in an undated image published by the Miami Herald. Vice President Mike Pence was also pictured with the four of them at the event. 

Another image posted on Facebook by Parnas, also in May 2018, was captioned “power breakfast !!!” and included a #Trump2020 hashtag. The photo shows Donald Trump Jr. with Fruman and Parnas at the Beverly Hills Polo Lounge.

Donald Trump Jr., left, Trump campaign fundraiser Tommy Hicks Jr., Ukrainian-American businessman Lev Parnas and Belarus-born
Donald Trump Jr., left, Trump campaign fundraiser Tommy Hicks Jr., Ukrainian-American businessman Lev Parnas and Belarus-born businessman Igor Fruman in a 2018 screen capture from Parnas' social media account made by the Campaign Legal Center and released by the CLC on Thursday.

According to the indictment, Parnas and Fruman made a $325,000 contribution to an independent expenditure committee in May 2018 and falsely reported the source of the funds. The committee’s name was not disclosed in the indictment, but it has been identified as America First Action, a group that supports pro-Trump political candidates. 

Some on social media were not satisfied with Trump’s umbrella disclaimer that he did not know the pair but might have pictures with them, and some were quick to call out Trump’s hypocritical attack on former Vice President Joe Biden last week. 

The president had tweeted a doctored version of Nickelback’s “Look at This Photograph” music video, which had been edited to include an old image of Joe Biden and his son alongside two associates, one of whom had been labeled as a “Ukrainian gas exec.” The man was an American business partner of Hunter Biden’s, and the two sat on the same board of a gas company in Ukraine.

Trump’s attack was meant to highlight Joe Biden’s assertion he was not involved with his son’s business dealings in Ukraine. 

The Nickelback meme was quickly turned around on Trump Thursday:

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