Ex-Giuliani associate Parnas heads to trial in U.S. campaign finance case

Ukrainian-American businessman Lev Parnas and his his wife Svetlana Parnas leave the Manhattan Federal Court in the Manhattan borough of New York, U.S., February 3, 2020.
REUTERS/ Bryan R Smith/File Photo

A onetime associate of Donald Trump’s former lawyer Rudy Giuliani heads for a trial on Tuesday that could shed light on how campaign finance operates behind the scenes, including during the Republican former president’s failed 2020 reelection bid.

Jury selection will begin in Manhattan federal court in the case against Lev Parnas, and his co-defendant Andrey Kukushkin.

The Ukraine-born Parnas has been charged with concealing an illegal $325,000 donation to support Trump’s unsuccessful re-election bid.

Parnas and Kukushkin were also charged with illegally using donations to U.S. politicians from a wealthy Russian businessman, Andrey Muraviev, to obtain legal, recreational marijuana distribution licenses.

Jury selection is expected to take one or two days, and prosecutors have said they may finish presenting their case next week.

The case has drawn attention because of Parnas’ ties to Giuliani, a forceful supporter of Trump’s false claims that Democrat Joe Biden stole the 2020 election from him.

The names of Trump, Giuliani and other politicians will be mentioned during the trial, and jurors will be questioned over whether their political biases might affect their ability to fairly judge the defendants.

A former co-defendant, Belarus-born Igor Fruman, pleaded guilty on Sept. 10 to illegally soliciting money for marijuana business, and is to be sentenced in January. He is not cooperating with prosecutors.

Giuliani had enlisted Parnas and Fruman to dig up dirt in Ukraine about Biden and his son Hunter before the election.

The case is separate from a federal probe into Giuliani’s dealings in Ukraine, including whether the onetime New York City mayor violated lobbying laws while working as Trump’s lawyer.

Giuliani has not been charged and has denied wrongdoing. His lawyer has said Parnas’ case and the lobbying probe are unrelated.

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