Arrest of Giuliani associates ensnares ‘Congressman 1’

WASHINGTON — Businessmen with ties to Rudy Giuliani lobbied a U.S. congressman in 2018 for help ousting the American ambassador to Ukraine around the same time they committed to raising money for the lawmaker.

An indictment unsealed Thursday identified the lawmaker only as “Congressman 1.” But the donations described in the indictment match campaign finance reports for former Rep. Pete Sessions, a Texas Republican who lost his re-election bid in November 2018.

Sessions, who has been weighing a comeback, is not accused of any wrongdoing and denied Thursday that he was aware of what federal prosecutors allege was a coordinated effort to remove Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch. Still, he now finds himself entangled in the impeachment investigation centered on President Donald Trump’s dealings with Ukraine as well as Giuliani’s relationships in the former Soviet republic.

The indictment was made public Thursday following the arrest of two Florida businessmen with ties to Giuliani. It alleges that Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman leveraged a flurry of GOP political donations in a campaign to force Yovanovitch’s removal, an effort prosecutors say was aided by laundered foreign money.

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