A Lawyer For Giuliani’s Ukrainian Associate Tried

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A lawyer for Igor Fruman, one of the men who had been working with Rudy Guiliani in his Ukraine campaign, tried to argue Friday that his client was not a flight risk and didn’t need to be under house arrest, despite the fact that he had been arrested just before boarding a flight overseas on a one-way ticket last month.

“I’m not exactly sure what your ask is here,” Judge Paul Oetken said to Todd Blanche, the lawyer for Fruman.

Blanche sighed and looked down. He was at a hearing at the US District Court for the Southern District of New York Friday, in which he was attempting to petition for modifications to Fruman’s bail agreement: house arrest, a GPS tracker, and a $1 million bond. It was not going well.

Blanche called the allegations that Fruman was “fleeing the country” when he was arrested Oct. 9 on the jetway at Dulles International Airport outside of Washington, DC, “completely false”: “There is zero evidence,” Blanche told the court.

“It’s false that he had a one-way ticket?” Oetken aksed.

“No, that is absolutely true,” Blanche responded. It was just cheaper for Fruman and his business partner, Lev Parnas, to get one-way tickets, Blanche said. The one-way ticket to Vienna was $8,000, while the round-trip was $20,000, he said, adding that he had texts from the date of purchase showing that a one-way was cheaper.

Fruman and Parnas have been indicted on four counts of campaign finance violations, including using “straw” accounts and businesses to use the money of an unnamed Russian businessperson to influence US politicians. They also played a key role in a campaign to oust the former US ambassador to Ukraine and dig up dirt on former vice president Joe Biden for President Donald Trump.

In early October, Congress asked Fruman and Parnas to testify for the ongoing impeachment inquiry into Trump over his statements to the president of Ukraine. Two days later, the two men were arrested as they were about to board a plane at Dulles. They both had one-way tickets to Vienna, Austria.

Blanche’s mission in Friday’s hearing was to convince Judge Oetken that Fruman was not a flight risk, that the $1 million bond, which Fruman’s son, brother, and sister-in-law are guarantors for, was enough to keep him in the country, and that he was never going to, and never did, attempt to flee the country. Blanche was the sole person speaking on Fruman’s behalf Friday. No other lawyers were present, and Fruman was still under house arrest in Miami.

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