In the latest developments in the investigation, the House of Representatives has subpoenaed energy secretary Rick Perry as well as the two aforementioned Giuliani associtates picked up in Florida to give their side of the story on Ukraine.
“Recently, public reports have raised questions about any role you may have played in conveying or reinforcing the President’s stark message to the Ukrainian President,” the chairmen of the House Intelligence, Foreign Affairs and Oversight committees leading the House inquiry wrote in a letter to Perry.
The subpoena issued on Thursday demands that Perry hand over all documents and communications related to any Energy Department preparations for Trump’s now notorious 25 July call with Volodymyr Zelensky. The inquiry is also seeking information on the American delegation to attend Zelensky’s inauguration, which Perry spearheaded, and on his reported attempts to influence a changing of the guard on the board of Naftogaz, Ukraine’s state gas company.
As for Messrs Parnas and Fruman, thought to have played a networking role in Ukraine on behalf of Giuliani, the chairmen told their lawyer John Dowd they must comply with the investigation in spite of the White House refusal to co-operate because they are private citizens.
They may not evade requests from Congress for documents and information necessary to conduct our inquiry. They are required by law to comply with the enclosed subpoenas. They are not exempted from this requirement merely because they happen to work with Mr Giuliani, and they may not defy congressional subpoenas merely because President Trump has chosen the path of denial, defiance, and obstruction.
The pair, Ukraine-born Parnas and Belarus-born Fruman, were arrested yesterday at an airport outside Washington carrying one-way tickets to Vienna, intriguingly. Prosecutors said they conspired to contribute foreign money, including at least $1m (£797,000) from an unidentified Russian businessman, to candidates for federal and state offices to buy influence.
The two had donated $325,000 (£259,000) to a pro-Trump political action committee called America First Action in May 2018 and the money was falsely reported as coming from a purported natural gas company set up to conceal its true source, according to the indictment.
Here’s a nice picture of the dueo having lunch with a nervous-looking Don Jr, incidentally, plus another with Trump himself and Rudy for good measure.
Here’s a more recent photo.