Two associates of Rudy Giuliani’s arrested for a campaign finance conspiracy earlier this month were on their way to help with a planned interview between Fox News’ Sean Hannity and former Ukrainian prosecutor Viktor Shokin, they told others.
CNN reported the reason for Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman’s trip on Wednesday, citing four people familiar with the duo’s plans.
Parnas and Fruman were arrested the night of Oct. 9 as they boarded a one-way international flight out of Washington, D.C., reportedly to Vienna. Giuliani subsequently told the Atlantic that he too was scheduled for a flight to Vienna on Oct. 10.
According to CNN’s sources, Parnas and Fruman claimed to others that they were going to Vienna to meet Giuliani and help with an interview in the city between Hannity and Shokin.
Shokin is the former Ukrainian prosecutor general. President Donald Trump and his allies have asserted that Joe Biden put pressure on Ukraine’s government to fire Shokin in order to protect Biden’s son, Hunter, who served on the board of the Ukrainian natural gas company Burisma. In reality, Joe Biden joined scores of western leaders in calling for Shokin’s ouster because the country’s top prosecutor was seen as insufficiently tough on corruption.
But Shokin has readily provided ammunition for Trumpworld’s campaign against Biden, most notably in a sworn affidavit entered into the case of a Ukrainian oligarch that restated the claims about Joe and Hunter Biden. The affidavit quickly became pro-Trump fodder, cited by Giuliani and others on TV interviews.
That oligarch, Dmitry Firtash, has for years lived in Vienna as he’s fought extradition to the United States on bribery charges.
Notably CNN’s report contrasts with what Giuliani told the Atlantic — that he and his clients and business partners, Fruman and Parnas, would coincidentally be in the same city on the same day without having planned on meeting each other.
A Fox News spokesperson relayed a statement from Hannity to TPM. “We never reveal our sources, potential sources, or persons they may or may not request to interview,” it read. “Sean Hannity takes the first amendment seriously.”