Roger Stone on Friday became the latest in a long line of Trump World figures to add “convicted felon” to his resume since the president took office. The vultures now appear to be circling around Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s personal attorney who is currently waist-deep in a quagmire of corruption the impeachment inquiry is exposing.
Around the same time a jury found Stone guilty on seven counts of obstructing justice, witness tampering, and lying to Congress, the Wall Street Journal reported that federal investigators are probing the former New York mayor’s potential involvement in a scheme by two of his associates, Lev Parnas and Leon Fruman, to land a lucrative deal for their natural gas company.
Parnas and Fruman, both U.S. citizens who were born in Ukraine, were instrumental in Giuliani’s efforts to convince Ukraine to launch investigations the 2016 election and Joe Biden, introducing him to several key players. Earlier this year, the duo pitched Ukrainian officials and energy executives on a proposal by their company, Global Energy Producers, to construct a pipeline to carry U.S. natural gas from Poland to Ukraine. They sold the project as having the support of the Trump administration, also noting that Giuliani was their business partner, according to the Journal.
Prosecutors want to know whether Giuliani stood to get a taste of the profits, which could constitute a violation of federal lobbying laws.
“I have no personal interest in any business in Ukraine, including that business,” Giuliani told the Journal. “If they really want to know if I’m a partner, why don’t they ask me?” He added that he doesn’t know what Parnas and Fruman “said to other people about me” and that he is “not a part of the ownership, or any other involvement with GEP.”
Though Giuliani denies any connection to GEP, GEP clearly wanted to curry favor with the Trump administration, promoting itself as a supporter of the president. Look no further than its Twitter account.
— GlobalEnergyProducers (@GEPLLC18) August 8, 2018
In the many of the same meetings Parnas and Fruman pitched their energy project to Ukrainian officials, touting its support from the Trump administration, they also tried to convince officials to launch the investigations the administration desired. As the Journal notes, the energy pitch and pressure to investigate Biden and the 2016 election were presented as part of a “package.”
The Trump administration’s efforts to extort Ukraine into launching the investigations are now the focus of an impeachment inquiry House Democrats launched in September, and, as has been made clear since the inquiry commenced, Giuliani was the administration’s point person in getting Ukraine to play ball.
But Giuliani may still be in trouble even if investigators aren’t able to turn up evidence he was using GEP to piggyback financially off the “packaged” attempt to get Ukraine to launch the investigations. Parnas and Fruman were both arrested last month on charges of campaign finance violations, and, as Bloomberg reported on Thursday, federal prosecutors are investigating whether Giuliani committed similar violations, as well as violations for failing to register as a foreign agent. The inquiries are part of a probe into Giuliani’s financial dealings, particularly those in Ukraine, launched earlier this year by the Southern District of New York.
Meanwhile, Giuliani continues to serve as the personal attorney for the president of the United States.