Former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani and president-elect Donald Trump head into the clubhouse for their meeting at Trump International Golf Club, November 20, 2016 in Bedminster Township, New Jersey.
President Donald Trump said Thursday that he hopes his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani does not end up getting indicted on criminal charges.
Trump’s comment to reporters came hours after federal prosecutors in New York revealed that two of Giuliani’s clients, along with two other men, had been charged with conspiring to violate campaign finance laws barring foreign money to be used to support candidates for federal office.
Giuliani reportedly had dined with the clients, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday, hours before they were arrested at Dulles International Airport in Virginia waiting to board a flight abroad with one-way tickets.
The indictment says Parnas and Fruman made illegal donations totaling $325,000 to a political action committee that supports Trump.
“I don’t know those gentlemen,” Trump told reporters Thursday.
The Miami Herald earlier this week ran an article about Parnas’ and Furman’s refusal to comply with requests for documents and testimony from House committees conducting an impeachment inquiry into Trump.
That article was illustrated with a photo showing Trump, Parnas, Furman and Giuliani standing together, smiling, at a prior event.
Parnas and Furman and the other two 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 candidates, campaigns, and the candidates’ governments,” according to federal prosecutors in New York City.
Giuliani is not accused of wrongdoing in the case.
Giuliani, who is both a former New York City mayor and the former top prosecutor in the office now charging Parnas and Fruman, has said that both men worked with him as part of Giuliani’s efforts to get the government of Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden, who had served on the board of a gas company in Ukraine.
Trump himself asked Ukraine’s new president during a July 25 phone call to launch such an investigation of Joe Biden, who is a leading contender for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination. At the time, Trump was withholding military aid that had been approved by Congress for Ukraine.
Trump’s request for a foreign nation to probe a political opponent seeking to unseat him led the House of Representatives to initiate an impeachment inquiry into the president’s actions.
One of Trump’s prior personal lawyers, Michael Cohen, currently is serving a three-year sentence in federal prison in New York state for crimes that include campaign finance violations.
Cohen last year admitted facilitating hundreds of thousands of dollars in hush-money payments shortly before the 2016 presidential election to porn star Stormy Daniels and Playboy model Karen McDougal to keep them from talking to the media about their alleged affairs with Trump.
Trump denies having sex with either woman.