Key facts and latest news
- Two foreign-born men with ties to the president’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani have been arrested on federal campaign finance charges.
- CBS News has learned the full contents of what appears to be a memo written by the whistleblower one day after Mr. Trump spoke with the Ukrainian president in July.
- On a July call between Mr. Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, Mr. Trump urged Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden.
- Soon after the July call, White House officials moved a record of the call to a highly classified computer system, severely restricting who could access it.
- In the memo, a White House official is quoted as saying it was “crazy,” “frightening,” and “completely lacking in substance related to national security.”
Washington — Two foreign-born men who helped the president’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani in his efforts to investigate Joe and Hunter Biden have been arrested on federal campaign finance charges.
The men, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, are accused of conspiring to “circumvent the federal laws against foreign interference by engaging in a scheme to funnel foreign money to candidates for federal and State office,” according to an indictment in the Southern District of New York. Two other men, David Correia and Andrey Kukushkin, also face charges.
The pair are both U.S. citizens, according to the indictment. Parnas was born in Ukraine, while Fruman was born in Belarus, prosecutors said. They are expected to appear in court in Virginia Thursday afternoon.
The U.S. attorney in New York said at a press conference that Parnas and Fruman were arrested Wednesday evening at Dulles International Airport outside Washington as they were awaiting one-way flights out of the country.
Parnas and Fruman appeared briefly in federal court in Virginia Thursday afternoon and were granted conditional $1 million bond packages, but remain in custody.
Both Parnas and Fruman donated to Republican campaigns, and gave $325,000 to America First Action, a pro-Trump super PAC in 2018, public records show. Prosecutors allege the men set up a phony company and falsely reported the company as the source of the contributions, and made other contributions through the use of others’ names to skirt federal limits.
The indictment also alleges the pair met numerous times with a member of Congress to urge the ouster of the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, working at the direction of Ukrainian government officials.
The House committees leading the impeachment inquiry issued new subpoenas Thursday demanding documents from the men. The committees had previously requested they hand over documents voluntarily.
On Wednesday, CBS News learned the full contents of what appears to be a memo written by the whistleblower one day after President Trump spoke with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in July.
The memo, dated July 26, is based on a conversation the whistleblower had with an unnamed White House official who listened to the call.
“The official described the call as ‘crazy,’ ‘frightening’ and ‘completely lacking in substance related to national security,'” the memo states. “The official asserted that the President used the call to persuade Ukrainian authorities to investigate his political rivals, chiefly former Vice President Biden and his son, Hunter.”
Fiona Hill expected to testify about Giuliani and Sondland
When former National Security Council official Fiona Hill testifies before Congress on Monday, she is expected to tell lawmakers that President Trump’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, and Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland actively avoided her and the NSC process and ran their own Ukraine policy, a source familiar with Hill told CBS News.
Hill, who is testifying voluntarily, does not intend to hand over documents or texts. She officially left the White House in July, but before the July 25 call between Mr. Trump and Zelensky took place. Hill is an authority on Russia and has written a book on the Russian president, called “Mr. Putin: Operative in the Kremlin.”
Lawyers ask if whistleblower can answer questions in writing
5:03 p.m.: Lawyers for the whistleblower have requested “interrogatories” — or written questions for their client to answer — from the intelligence committees, people familiar with the request tell CBS News.
The request was first reported by The Wall Street Journal.
One of the people said the Senate Intelligence Committee is “working through it.” — Olivia Gazis
Trump says he doesn’t know Parnas or Fruman
4:50 p.m.: Speaking to reporters before departing for a rally in Minneapolis, Mr. Trump said that he does not know Parnas or Fruman, although he acknowledged he may have taken a photograph with one of them. BuzzFeed News published a photo showing Parnas and Mr. Trump in a Facebook post from July.
“I don’t know those gentlemen,” Mr. Trump said, adding that while he may have a photo with Parnas, “I have pictures with everybody.”
“You’ll have to ask Rudy,” Mr. Trump said about the two, referring to Giuliani. — Grace Segers
Former congressman denies knowledge of scheme described in indictment
4:30 p.m.: Former Congressman Pete Sessions, who received large donations from the super PAC backed by Fruman and Parnas, said in a statement Thursday that he had no knowledge of the scheme described in the indictment against the two. While in Congress, Sessions questioned the fitness of former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, whom Giuliani hoped to have removed.
The contributions to Sessions by the super PAC, America First Action, were first reported by The Daily Beast on Wednesday.
In his statement on Thursday, Sessions said that he could not confirm whether he was the congressman mentioned in the indictment, but that he “will vigorously defend myself against any allegations of wrongdoing.”
“If I am ‘Congressman One’, I could not have had any knowledge of the scheme described in the indictment or have involvement or coordination of it,” Sessions said. — Grace Segers
Parnas and Fruman granted $1 million bond
4:23 p.m.: In a brief court appearance, a federal judge in Virginia approved $1 million bond packages for both Parnas and Fruman, but the men will remain in custody until they meet the conditions of the bond and complete the proper paperwork.
The terms of their release are as follows:
- $1 million bond for each, secured with property.
- Both will remain under house arrest and be subject to GPS location monitoring.
- Any travel must be approved by pretrial services ahead of time, and travel is restricted to the Southern District of New York and the Southern District of Florida, and they must get approval to go back and forth.
- They cannot discuss the case with each other without their respective counsel present.
- They are required to have a third-party custodian to ensure the conditions are met. They are likely to have separate custodians who must be identified to the court.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Michael S. Nachmanoff said he was “reluctant to impose” the terms given the “unusual situation” surrounding the case. But federal prosecutor Nicholas Roos said the government felt the conditions were sufficient to “guard against the potential flight risk.”
Kevin Downing, an attorney representing the pair, told CBS News they are not expected to be released tonight, given the amount of paperwork required to satisfy the court’s requirements.
Nachmanoff said both men may be “stuck in limbo” for a few days as the court processes their paperwork and pretrial services can approve co-signers and third party custodians. They’re scheduled to appear before a judge in New York next Thursday.
Both men have already surrendered their passports and told the court they have no other travel documents. — Clare Hymes and Bryce Klehm
House committees subpoena Rick Perry
4:02 p.m.: The three House investigating committees issued a subpoena to Secretary of Energy Rick Perry demanding documents related to his involvement with Ukraine.
“Recently, public reports have raised questions about any role you may have played in conveying or reinforcing the President’s stark message to the Ukrainian President,” the chairmen wrote in a letter. “These reports have also raised significant questions about your efforts to press Ukrainian officials to change the management structure at a Ukrainian state-owned energy company to benefit individuals involved with Rudy Giuliani’s push to get Ukrainian officials to interfere in our 2020 election.”
Perry was tapped to lead the delegation to Zelensky’s inauguration in place of Vice President Mike Pence, and met with various Ukrainian officials, including Zelensky, several other times.
The White House counsel said Tuesday that no members of the executive branch would cooperate with Democratic demands for documents or testimony. — Stefan Becket
Giuliani’s attorney says indictment does not involve client “in any way”
3:38 p.m.: Jon Sale, Giuliani’s attorney, said in a statement to CBS News that the indictment of Parnas and Fruman has nothing to do with the former mayor.
“The indictment does not involve Mayor Giuliani in any way. At one point he represented those two men as a lawyer, so that is privileged. He only knew [them] because they were his clients,” Sale said. — Paula Reid
Ukrainian president says he never met with Giuliani associates
3:26 p.m.: Zelensky told reporters in Ukraine on Thursday that he has never met Parnas or Fruman.
“I never met these two men. I heard about them,” Zelensky said during a marathon press conference, adding he never had any phone calls with them either.
The indictment against Parnas and Fruman alleges the pair met numerous times with a member of Congress to urge the ouster of the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, working at the direction of Ukrainian government officials. –– Grace Segers
Giuliani associates were arrested while awaiting one-way flight out of U.S.
2:24 p.m.: Parnas and Fruman were arrested at Dulles International Airport outside Washington on Wednesday evening as they were about to board an international flight on one-way tickets, according to U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Geoffrey Berman, who said at a press conference that protecting the integrity of U.S. elections from foreign influence is of primary importance to his office.
“This investigation is about corrupt behavior — deliberate law breaking,” said William Sweeney, assistant director-in-charge of the FBI’s New York office. — Kathryn Watson
Romney responds to Trump’s attacks, says he hasn’t decided how he’d vote in impeachment trial
1:30 p.m.: Utah Senator Mitt Romney, one of the few Republicans criticizing the president over his call with Ukraine’s president, said he hasn’t decided how he’d vote in a possible Senate trial.
“No,” Romney said, asked if he’d made up his mind in a small press conference after a roundtable on the health consequences of vaping in Utah.
Romney condemned the president’s request for Ukraine to investigate the Bidens, saying he doesn’t think anyone thinks it’s OK for a president to ask a foreign leader for an investigation into a political rival, a position many of his Republican colleagues have struggled to articulate.
Asked about the president’s Twitter attacks against him — the president has called for Romney’s impeachment and called him a “pompous ass” — Romney jokingly pleaded with a reporter, “Oh, don’t repeat them!”
“First of all, I don’t follow the president on Twitter so I don’t see all of his tweets,” Romney said. “But secondly in my business if you got concerned about criticism, you’d be in the wrong business.”
(Romney did in fact follow the president as of this writing, based on his public following list.)
Romney said he hasn’t discussed impeachment with other senators. Congress has been in recess since late September, and returns next week. — Kathryn Watson
House Democrats subpoena arrested Giuliani associates
12:23 p.m.: The House committees overseeing the impeachment inquiry issued subpoenas for documents from Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, the Giuliani associates who have been arrested on campaign finance charges.
The committees had previously asked the men to voluntarily provide a number of documents, including any documents related to their efforts or others’ efforts to get Ukrainian officials to investigate the Bidens, Democratic National Committee or Hillary Clinton.
“Your clients are private citizens who are not employees of the Executive Branch. They may not evade requests from Congress for documents and information necessary to conduct our inquiry,” the committee chairmen said. “They are required by law to comply with the enclosed subpoenas.”
The subpoenas set a deadline of October 16 for the pair to produce the documents. The chairmen also said they expect the men to testify before the committee “at a later date.”
State Department official overseeing Ukraine policy to be deposed Tuesday
12:00 p.m.: George Kent, a State Department official overseeing Ukraine policy, is scheduled to be deposed by Congress in a closed session Tuesday. Kent, who served as deputy chief of mission in Kiev from 2015 to 2018, was not mentioned in the whistleblower complaint. He was originally slated to appear on October 7.
Around the time that the Ukraine military aid was released in mid-September, Kent delivered remarks about U.S. efforts to secure access for Ukrainians to reliable broadcast news to counter the Russian propaganda that fills the airwaves along the border between the two countries. In his address, Kent noted that the U.S., since 2014, has “provided over $3 billion in assistance to Ukraine” in several areas, including security.
Kent is currently deputy assistant secretary in the European and Eurasian Bureau at the State Department.
Barr was briefed on case of Giuliani associates in February
10:52 a.m.: Attorney General William Barr was briefed on the case of Giuliani’s associates in February, shortly after his confirmation.
The attorney general has received additional briefings in recent weeks, and fully supports the case. The attorney general did not need to approve the charges because the case didn’t rise to the level where he would need to get involved. — Paula Reid
Two foreign-born men who helped Rudy Giuliani on Ukraine arrested on campaign finance charges
9:58 a.m.: CBS News has confirmed that two foreign-born men who helped the president’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, in his efforts to investigate Joe and Hunter Biden, have been arrested on campaign-finance charges.
According to a Justice Department official, the men, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, were indicted on charges by the U.S. attorney’s office in Manhattan of conspiring to “circumvent the federal laws against foreign interference by engaging in a scheme to funnel foreign money to candidates for federal and State office” in order to buy potential influence with the candidates and government.
Both men donated to Republican campaigns and gave $325,000 to America First Action, a pro-Trump super PAC in 2018. In a statement, a spokesperson for AFA said that it “placed that contribution in a segregated bank account, [and] it has not been used it for any purpose and the funds will remain in this segregated account until these matters are resolved.”
Giuliani has pressured Ukrainian officials to investigate Joe Biden’s efforts to oust a former Ukrainian prosecutor general as vice president, alleging without evidence that the prosecutor general was investigating a Ukrainian gas firm with ties to Hunter Biden.
— Paula Reid, Grace Segers, Kathryn Watson
Ukraine president says he was unaware of aid holdup during July phone call
7:24 a.m.: In a press conference in Kiev, Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky told CBS News he did not know that hundreds of millions of dollars in U.S. military assistance were being withheld when he spoke with Mr. Trump on July 25.
The White House was holding off on aide to Ukraine at the time, although that aid was eventually released. On the phone call, Mr. Trump asked Zelensky, whose country depends heavily on U.S. aid to combat Russia, to look into the Bidens. — Kathryn Watson
House Democrats request testimony from Fiona Hill, former top NSC Russia adviser
Wednesday, 11:11 p.m.: The Democratic chairmen of the House Intelligence, Foreign Affairs and Oversight committees have requested Fiona Hill provide a deposition to the committees on October 14 at 10 a.m. Hill served on the National Security Council from 2017 until this past August, and she specializes in European and Russian affairs.
This is not a subpoena, but a request for her appearance and documents related to her time as the National Security Council (NSC) senior director for Russia. The chairmen have asked for materials related to the phone call between Mr. Trump and Zelensky, for the identities of people involved in the call, including those who listened to it and those who transcribed it.
Hill left NSC for the private sector in June. She was replaced by Tim Morrison. — Arden Farhi
Trey Gowdy joining Trump’s outside legal team
Wednesday, 7:39 p.m.: Former Republican Congressman Trey Gowdy is joining the president’s outside legal team as “counsel to the president,” attorney Jay Sekulow said Wednesday.
“His legal skills and his advocacy will serve the President well,” Sekulow said. “Trey’s command of the law is well known and his service on Capitol Hill will be a great asset as a member of our team.”
Gowdy, a former federal prosecutor, was a key figure in House Republicans’ years-long probe into the 2012 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi. He decided against running for reelection in the 2018 midterm elections. — Paula Reid
Giuliani argues whistleblower memo discredits complaint
Wednesday, 6:03 p.m.: Rudy Giuliani, the president’s personal attorney, told CBS News he believes the whistleblower’s memo discredits the complaint and the White House official who discussed the Ukraine call.
“This poor little sissy was all worried. This guy was ‘visibly shaken.’ I think a 5-year-old child wouldn’t be visibly shaken by it. Nobody was threatening anyone,” Giuliani said. “I hope he’s in a mental hospital.”
He also criticized the description of the call as “lacking in substance related to national security,” saying, “Half of the call was about European relations and how much Europe pays. Maybe he listened to a different conversation.” — Weijia Jiang
Whistleblower’s lawyers say client has spent career in “apolitical” roles
Wednesday, 5:17 p.m.: The whistleblower’s legal team issued a statement clarifying their client’s background and professional career in response to reports about the person’s political leanings.
“First, our client has never worked for or advised a political candidate, campaign, or party,” the statement from Mark Zaid and Andrew Bakaj said. “Second, our client has spent their entire government career in apolitical, civil servant positions in the Executive Branch. Third, in these positions our client has come into contact with presidential candidates from both parties in their roles as elected officials – not as candidates.”
A source familiar with the matter earlier told CBS News the whistleblower had a “prior working relationship with a current 2020 Democratic presidential contender.” — Stefan Becket
Trump says Schiff should be “prosecuted” and “impeached”
Wednesday, 4:22 p.m.: Speaking to reporters at the White House, Mr. Trump repeated several claims about his call with Zelensky, saying the call was “perfect.” He also continued his criticism of House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff.
“There are those that say he should be prosecuted for what he did … he certainly should be impeached,” Mr. Trump said of Schiff. House members are not subject to impeachment.
Mr. Trump also suggested that details of his call with Zelensky were kept secret because of the threat of leaks to the press.
“I assume it was for leaks,” Mr. Trump said. “Because this city is like the leaking capital of the world.” The transcript of the call was moved to a more secure server than is typical for most calls between the president and foreign leaders.
Mr. Trump also repeated his concern about a “spy” listening in on important calls.
“We could have a spy, and I don’t want to have spies when I’m negotiating with China and Syria,” he said. “I don’t want to have spies in the White House.” — Grace Segers
Whistleblower had “prior working relationship” with current Democratic candidate, source says
Wednesday, 4:20 p.m.: The whistleblower is a registered Democrat who had a “prior working relationship with a current 2020 Democratic presidential contender,” a source familiar with the matter tells CBS News.
The person said the intelligence community inspector general, Michael Atkinson, told Congress the whistleblower’s political affiliation, but would not disclose to lawmakers which 2020 candidate the whistleblower was connected to, out of fear that doing so might expose the whistleblower’s identity.
The nature of the “prior working relationship” remains unclear. The Washington Examiner first reported the whistleblower had a “professional relationship” with a Democratic candidate.
Read the full story here. — Arden Farhi and Kathryn Watson
Read the whistleblower’s memo about Trump’s Ukraine call, as described to CBS News
Wednesday, 3:06 p.m.: CBS News has learned the full contents of what appears to be a memo written by the whistleblower one day after Mr. Trump spoke with the Ukrainian president in July.
The memo, dated July 26, is based on a conversation the whistleblower had with an unnamed White House official who listened to the call.
According to a source familiar with the matter, the memo was among the factors that led the intelligence community inspector general to determine the whistleblower’s formal August 12 complaint was credible. The inspector general testified Friday behind closed doors before the three House committee leading the impeachment inquiry.
Read the full memo as described to CBS News here. — Arden Farhi
Biden calls for Trump’s impeachment for the first time
Wednesday, 1:50 p.m.: The former vice president, speaking in New Hampshire, said for the first time that the president “should be impeached.”
“Donald Trump has violated his oath of office, betrayed this nation and committed impeachable acts,” Biden said. “He should be impeached.”
Read the full story here.