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U.S. President Donald Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani has coffee with Ukrainian-American businessman Lev Parnas at t...

Giuliani associates plead not guilty

NEW YORK (AP) — Two associates of Rudy Giuliani pleaded not guilty Wednesday to charges they used straw donors to make illegal campaign contributions to politicians and committees to advance their business interests.

Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman were arraigned in federal court in Manhattan in a case that’s cast a harsh light on the business dealings of President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer.

“Many false things have been said about me and my family. … I will be vindicated,” Parnas said outside court. Fruman didn’t speak to reporters.

Prosecutors say Parnas and Fruman made donations while lobbying U.S. politicians to oust the country’s ambassador to Ukraine. Giuliani — who at the time was trying to get Ukrainian officials to investigate the son of Trump’s potential Democratic challenger, Joe Biden — has said he knew nothing about the donations.

Trump’s efforts to press Ukraine for an investigation of the Bidens are now the subject of a House impeachment inquiry.

Prosecutors say Parnas and Fruman worked with two other men, David Correia and Andrey Kukushkin, in a separate scheme to make illegal campaign donations to politicians in several states in an attempt to get support for a new recreational marijuana business.

Correia and Kukushkin pleaded not guilty last week at a hearing where a prosecutor said evidence includes data from over 50 bank accounts and information gathered through 10 search warrants. The prosecutor told the judge that the government’s investigation is ongoing.

All the defendants are U.S. citizens, but Kukushkin and Parnas were born in Ukraine and Fruman in Belarus. All are free on bail.