Lev Parnas arrives for arraignment in Manhattan federal court before U.S. District Court Judge Paul Oetken on Wednesday. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo
Oct. 23 (UPI) -- Two Florida-based political donors linked to Rudy Giuliani pleaded not guilty Wednesday to charges they illegally donated foreign funds to a political action committee favoring President Donald Trump's re-election.
They entered their pleas during an arraignment in federal court in Manhattan.
The hearing came nearly two weeks after Ukraine-born Lev Parnas and Belarus-born Igor Fruman, both U.S. citizens, were arrested at Washington Dulles International Airport. They each were released on $1 million bond.
After the hearing, Parnas said he looked forward to defending himself in court.
"I'm certain that in time the truth will be revealed and I will be vindicated," he said. "In the end I put my faith in God."
Fruman and Parnas worked with Giuliani, Trump's personal lawyer, to press Ukraine for an inquiry into Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter Biden, prosecutors said.
The men's lawyers told District Judge Paul Oetken that executive privilege may come into play in their case because both worked for Giuliani, who works for Trump.
Prosecutor Rebekah Donaleski said the federal government established a team to filter any attorney-client privileged material that comes up during the case.
Two other men, David Correia and Andrey Kukushkin, also were arrested in connection with the alleged campaign finance scheme. They each pleaded not guilty to charges Thursday.
The indictments were semi-connected to an impeachment investigation by House Democrats trying to determine whether Trump threatened to withhold military aid to Ukraine in exchange for action against the Bidens. Refusing Congress-approved aid for personal, political benefit is an impeachable offense, many experts say.
The indictments stated that Parnas and Fruman donated money and pledged to raise additional funds in 2018 for a candidate who was enlisted to oust former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch.
The watchdog group that first notified the Federal Elections Commission to the alleged campaign finance scheme, Campaign Legal Center, filed a complaint saying the super PAC to which the men donated also broke the law. The group accused America First Action of concealing the source of the donations it received.
The super PAC hasn't been charged with any crimes.