On Wednesday night, Rudy Giuliani’s clients Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman went down as the first arrests of the Ukraine scandal, when they were detained on campaign-finance charges: The pair allegedly laundered foreign money through shell companies in order to spend it on Republican campaigns. Also on their suspect docket was a project with Giuliani, helping the president’s lawyer pressure Ukrainian officials to investigate Hunter Biden’s business dealings in-country.
The charges — and subsequent subpoenas from the impeachment inquiry — handed to Parnas and Fruman were reportedly moved up, because the two were prepared to board a one-way flight at Dulles airport heading to Vienna, Austria.
Apparently, so was Rudy Giuliani. According to The Atlantic staff writer Elaina Plott, on Wednesday the lawyer told her they couldn’t meet for an interview due to a Hannity appearance.
When I suggested this evening instead, his response was a bit more curious. We would have to aim for lunch, Giuliani told me, because he was planning to fly to Vienna, Austria, at night. He didn’t offer any details beyond that …
When confirming today that Parnas and Fruman were heading to Vienna on matters “related to their business,” told the [Wall Street] Journal that he himself only had plans to meet with them when they returned to Washington. By this logic, Giuliani was also planning to fly to Vienna within roughly 24 hours of his business associates, but do no business with them while all three were there.
When Plott tried to get in contact with Giuliani on Thursday, a woman who said she was his communications director answered his phone — a first for Plott in her many calls to Giuliani — and said he wasn’t available. In the background, Plott heard the president’s lawyer yelling “asshole” at the TV.
Why were Parnas and Fruman headed to Vienna for “business” in the same window as Giuliani, but with no stated plan to meet up? Certainly some answer will arise following the subpoena issued to Giuliani last month, and the subpoenas issued to Parnas and Fruman on Thursday. (The two aren’t going anywhere, as they’re currently in detention in Virginia on $1 million bond each.) In the ensuing days, we’ll hopefully learn more about Giuliani’s connections to the men, as he hasn’t been too forward about their relationship:
Meanwhile, the president has claimed ignorance: “I don’t know those gentlemen,” Trump said Thursday, adding that he hadn’t spoken about them with Giuliani — despite Giuliani being the point man on the president’s push for an investigation in Ukraine, and the existence a picture of Parnas with Trump at the White House from 2018.