This courtroom sketch depicts from left, attorney Kevin Downing, Lev Parnas, Igor Fruman, and attorney Thomas Zehnle standing before U.S. Judge Michael Nachmanoff, at federal courthouse in Alexandria, Va., Thursday, Oct. 10, 2019. Parnas and Fruman, two Florida businessmen tied to President Donald Trump's lawyer and the Ukraine investigation, were charged with federal campaign finance violations. The charges relate to a $325,000 donation to a group supporting President Donald Trump's reelection. (Dana Verkouteren via AP)

Arrested Florida men campaigned to oust US envoy to Ukraine

October 10, 2019 - 5:00 pm

WASHINGTON (AP) — Federal prosecutors say two Florida businessmen tied to Rudy Giuliani leveraged a flurry of GOP political donations in a campaign to force the removal of U.S. ambassador to Ukraine as part of a conspiracy with an unnamed Ukrainian official who wanted her gone.

An indictment unsealed Thursday against Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman alleges their push to oust Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch was aided by laundered foreign money. A year before she was recalled to Washington, prosecutors say Giuliani's fixers lobbied for her ouster in a Capitol Hill meeting with an unnamed congressman who was promised $20,000 in campaign donations.

Rep. Pete Sessions, a Texas Republican who lost his reelection bid last year, said Thursday he could not confirm whether he is the congressman in the indictment. He denied any wrongdoing.