From Mother Jones
As Rudy Giuliani and Donald Trump squawk that the president's quid-pro-quo-ish call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky was only prompted by Trump's heartfelt desire to address "corruption" in that former Soviet bloc nation, a new scandal has emerged in the United States that illustrates how corruption works here. This caper has implicated associates of Giuliani, a former Republican member of Congress, and a pro-Trump political action committee run by Linda McMahon, the World Wrestling Entertainment honcho who was Trump's first head of the Small Business Administration, and advised by Sean Spicer, the prevaricating Trump press secretary who now sweats it out on Dancing with the Stars. And it's all about campaign contributions and foreign influence -- and the ability of players to hide shady or illegal action.
On Thursday morning, four American citizens were indicted by the feds. The group included Lev Parnas, who was born in Ukraine, and Igor Fruman, who was born in Belarus. Parnas and Fruman have been the Rosencrantz and Guildenstern of the Trump-Ukraine scandal. While pursuing a big energy deal in Ukraine, the pair worked with Giuliani, who has said he was their lawyer, to dig up dirt on former Vice President Joe Biden.
Parnas and Fruman set up meetings for Giuliani with Ukrainian officials, and they pressed Ukrainian officials to launch investigations that could yield derogatory information on Biden and that could unearth proof that in 2016 the Ukrainian government colluded with the Hillary Clinton campaign by leaking information on Trump's campaign manager, Paul Manafort, who had been a consultant to the brazenly corrupt Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych.
This is the sort of dirt that Trump asked Zelensky for in the now-infamous, do-me-a-favor July 25 phone call.
Their first big donation was a $325,000 contribution in May 2018 to what the indictment calls "Committee-1," which media reports have identified as the America First Action SuperPAC. This outfit is chaired by McMahon, and Spicer is listed on its website as the group's "senior adviser and spokesman."
This GOP group is dedicated to raising big bucks to get Trump reelected, and in 2018 it raised and spent millions to support Republican congressional candidates.
About the time Parnas and Fruman made that whopping donation to the America First Action SuperPAC, according to the indictment, they also committed $20,000 to "Congressman-1," who has been identified by reporters as Pete Sessions, a senior Texas Republican who at the time was in a tough fight to retain his seat.
America First Action, by the way, was also committed to helping Sessions. Through that 2018 race, it spent about $3 million to assist him.