15-year-old North Carolina girl found safe following Amber Alert

North Carolina Department of Public Safety(FAYETTEVILLE, N.C.) — A missing 15-year-old girl in North Carolina has been found after an Amber Alert was issued earlier in the day.

The North Carolina Department of Public Safety sent out an Amber Alert for Nevia Maihyanna Nixon, of Fayetteville, on Thursday morning.

Nixon was last seen on Sept. 25 along the 600 block of Welsh Place, according to police. She was reported as a runaway the next day and Fayetteville police initially issued a “runaway/missing person” notice about her, but the case has since been upgraded to an Amber Alert.

The Fayetteville Police Department tweeted Thursday night that Nixon had been found “safe and unharmed.”

Sgt. Ranessa Wallace, spokeswoman for Fayetteville police, told ABC News prior to Nixon being found that the department received “new information that raised concern, as well as she hadn’t reached out to family members or friends, so that caused us to raise it to the level of an Amber Alert.”

She said it was a possibility that Nixon is in danger.

“We can’t rule it out,” Wallace said.

Wallace would not say what information police received or where the information came from.

She did note that there had not been a confirmed sighting of Nixon since her disappearance.

Nevia’s father, Carton Adams, had pleaded for her return, saying she is a loving girl. Adams said she spends a lot of time on social media, but has not posted anything since Sept. 25.

“I would like to keep positive and believe that my baby is not in any danger, but she loves her family and Nevi would have reached out and came home or said something,” he told Durham ABC station WTVD-TV.

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Posted On 17 Oct 2019

Trump focuses on House Democrats at Dallas campaign rally

President Trump departs Washington, D.C. for Texas on October 17, 2019. (Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)(DALLAS) — Shortly after stepping behind the podium at a campaign rally in Dallas, President Donald Trump launched into a string of fiery attacks on House Democrats over their impeachment push.

“I don’t really believe anymore that they love our country,” Trump said Thursday — just a few minutes into his speech.

“Crazy Nancy, think of that. That crazy Nancy, she is crazy,” Trump said of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. “The radical Democrats want to destroy America as we know it. They want to indoctrinate our children and teach them that America is a sinful, wicked nation. You see that happening all the time.”

Trump visits Texas amid a continued impeachment inquiry by House Democrats and a day after a meeting about Syria at the White House with House and Senate leaders ended with the Democrats walking out.

Just prior to the meeting, the House had voted overwhelmingly in favor of a resolution condemning the president’s decision to pull U.S. troops out of northeastern Syria.

Thursday’s raucous event is Trump’s third rally in just seven days, following an event in Minnesota last Thursday and Louisiana the following day.

It’s also the president’s second trip to Texas this year, a state he won by nine points in 2016, and one that some Democrats argue is ready to flip blue in 2020.

“Democrats and the media think they are going to turn Texas blue,” Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale told the rally crowd before the president took the stage, brushing off the speculation that Texas may be in play next year to a chorus of cheers.

The campaign dismissed the idea that the president was heading back to Texas out of fear that the state could be at risk.

“This is one of our biggest fundraising states, and the people here love the president — so of course we’re going to come back,” Trump campaign spokesman Tim Murtaugh told ABC News.

This is a developing news story. Please check back for updates.

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Posted On 17 Oct 2019

The story behind that photo of Pelosi, Trump and an angry White House meeting

Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead(WASHINGTON) — A picture may be worth a thousand words, but the photos from the contentious meeting this week between the president and congressional leaders don’t tell the whole story, and those who were there are telling dramatically different versions. In fact, the two sides don’t even agree on who asked whom to meet.

Regardless of how it came together, House and Senate leaders caravanned down Pennsylvania Avenue from Capitol Hill to the White House on Wednesday to discuss with President Donald Trump the path forward in northern Syria – one week to the day after Turkey launched its offensive against the Kurds.

The lawmakers from both sides of the aisle entered the West Wing just before 3:30 p.m. By 4:10 p.m., House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer had walked out on the White House driveway.

“Good afternoon, everyone,” Pelosi said, addressing reporters eager to hear about the first face-to-face meeting between the president and speaker since House Democrats launched an impeachment inquiry. “We were invited to a meeting with the president that comes at a very difficult time for him.”

Just prior to the meeting, the House had voted overwhelmingly in favor of a resolution condemning the president’s decision to pull U.S. troops out of northeastern Syria.

Pelosi attributed what she described as the president’s “meltdown” to that vote, saying “It shook him up, melted him down and he behaved accordingly.”

“The president immediately started off by saying that we asked for the meeting, which we had not,” she said. “You know, that’s a minor thing, it was not a particularly hospitable opening to the meeting.”

Hours later, President Trump turned to Twitter seemingly to get back at Pelosi, tweeting out a trio of photos from the Cabinet Room. One of them, showing Pelosi standing and pointing toward the president, has since gone viral. The text accompanying the photo reads, “Nervous Nancy’s unhinged meltdown,” echoing Pelosi’s criticism.

The tit-for-tat continued when the speaker subsequently turned the photo into the background on her Twitter page. When asked Thursday what was happening at the time the photo was taken, Pelosi smiled. “I think I was excusing myself from the room,” she said.

Pelosi said the president called her a “third-grade politician,” at which time House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer urged her to leave the meeting. According to Democratic sources, as they left the room, Trump said, “Goodbye, we’ll see you at the polls.”

Schumer soon followed them, but hung back for a few minutes to express his concern over the security of ISIS prisoners formerly guarded by the Kurds.

At one point, Schumer began citing Trump’s former secretary of defense, retired general James Mattis, who has warned ISIS will come back if the pressure on the terror group is relieved. According to sources, Trump interrupted, claiming credit for defeating ISIS and calling Mattis, “the world’s most overrated general.”

After the meeting ended, Republicans gathered on the White House driveway to share their account of what happened behind closed doors.

“I see a pattern of behavior with Speaker Nancy Pelosi,” House Minority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy said. “Unfortunately, the Speaker tries to make everything political. Her own statements weren’t productive. To storm out of a meeting, which I’ve watched time before during other crises, is really not the ability of a speaker or the style how a speaker should carry herself out.”

Pelosi pushed back on the Republicans’ account of how the meeting played out, and suggested a simple solution for achieving clarity.

“I think it would be interesting, you tell me, if we could have a recording of what goes on in those offices,” Pelosi mused. “Because when they come out and say, ‘Oh, this happened and that happened,’ and you’re like we must have been at two different meetings because that didn’t happen.”

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Posted On 17 Oct 2019

Zion Williamson to sit out final preseason game with sore right knee

Photo by Phil Ellsworth / ESPN Images(NEW ORLEANS) — First overall draft pick Zion Williamson will sit out the New Orleans Pelicans’ final preseason game with a sore right knee, the team announced Thursday.

New Orleans is in New York City to take on the Knicks on Friday. Williamson did not travel with the team, and will undergo further testing. There was no immediate timetable for his return.

In four preseason games, Williamson has averaged 23.3 points and 6.5 rebounds in 27.3 minutes.

The 19-year-old missed most of the Las Vegas Summer League after suffering a bruise of his other knee. He had not missed any time during training camp.

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Posted On 17 Oct 2019

Mulvaney admits quid pro quo, says military aid withheld to get Ukraine to probe Dems

(Official White House Photo by Joyce N. Boghosian)(WASHINGTON) — After repeated White House denials – including from President Donald Trump himself — that there was a quid pro quo in the Ukraine affair, White House Acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney on Thursday admitted there was one, saying Trump had ordered him to withhold military aid in part to pressure Ukraine to launch an investigation of Democrats.

“President Trump is not a big fan of foreign aid. Never has been. Still isn’t. Doesn’t like spending money overseas, especially when it’s poorly spent, and that is exactly what drove this decision,” Mulvaney told ABC News’ Chief White House Correspondent Jonathan Karl during a White House briefing. “I’ve been in the office a couple of times with him, talking about this, and he said, ‘Look, Mick, this is a corrupt place. Everybody knows it’s a corrupt place.’”

In a terse statement issued Thursday evening, Trump’s personal lawyer, Jay Sekulow, said, “The President’s legal counsel was not involved in acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney’s press briefing.”

After hours of backlash, Mulvaney attempted to clarify his comments in a statement released by the White House.

“Once again, the media has decided to misconstrue my comments to advance a biased and political witch hunt against President Trump. Let me be clear, there was absolutely no quid pro quo between Ukrainian military aid and any investigation into the 2016 election,” Mulvaney noted. “The president never told me to withhold any money until the Ukrainians did anything related to the server. The only reasons we were holding the money was because of concern about lack of support from other nations and concerns over corruption.”

The “server” reference is to a debunked conspiracy theory that Trump has long clung to: that the Democratic National Committee’s hacked email server was being held in Ukraine – and that individuals in Ukraine were behind an effort to sabotage his 2016 election. Last month, Trump’s own former homeland security adviser called the theory “completely false.”

Mulvaney added in the statement that he repeatedly cited the president’s interest in “rooting out corruption in Ukraine, and ensuring taxpayer dollars are spent responsibly and appropriately” during the news conference.

“There was never any connection between the funds and the Ukrainians doing anything with the server – this was made explicitly obvious by the fact that the aid money was delivered without any action on the part of the Ukrainians regarding the server,” he said. “There never was any condition on the flow of the aid related to the matter of the DNC server.”

Earlier Thursday, Mulvaney had recounted that the president told him he didn’t want to send Ukraine “a bunch of money and have them waste it, and have them spend it, have them use it to line their own pockets.”

“Those were the driving factors,” Mulvaney said. “Did he also mention to me in the past that the corruption related to the DNC server? Absolutely, no question about that. But that’s it and that’s why we held up the money.”

“So the demand for an investigation into the Democrats was part of the reason that he ordered you to withhold funding to Ukraine?” Karl asked.

“’Look back to what happened in 2016,’ certainly was part of the thing that he was worried about in corruption with the nation,” Mulvaney said. “And that is absolutely equivalent.”

“What you described is a quid pro quo,” Karl pressed. “It is: Funding will not flow unless the investigation into the Democrats’ server happens as well.”

“We do that all the time with foreign policy,” Mulvaney answered. “We were holding up money at the same time for, what was it? The Northern Triangle countries. We were holding up aid at the Northern Triangle countries so that they — so that they would change their policies on immigration.”

Mulvaney did not mention that a rough White House transcript of Trump’s call with Ukraine’s President Volodymr Zelenskiy shows the investigation into alleged corruption Trump and the president’s lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, specifically talked about a probe of the Ukrainian energy company Burisima where former Vice President Joe Biden’s son, Hunter, sat on the board.

Asked whether Giuliani’s role was problematic, Mulvaney dismissed questions raised about having a private individual, not a government official, involved in U.S. foreign policy.

“It is not illegal, it is not impeachable. The president gets to use who he wants to use. If he wants to fire me and hire someone else, he can. The president gets to set foreign policy. He gets to choose who to do so. As long as it does not violate law or laws regarding confidential information or classified material or anything like that the president can use who he wants tom” he argued.

Mulvaney, who stepped into the role of acting chief of staff from his post as the director of the Office of Management and Budget, insisted that an investigation of Joe Biden was not part of the equation, and dismissed the House Democrats’ impeachment inquiry as a “witch hunt.”

“I have news for everybody: Get over it. There’s going to be political influence in foreign policy,” Mulvaney said. “That is going to happen. Elections have consequences and foreign policy is going to change from the Obama administration to the Trump administration.”

While previous American presidents have pressured foreign leaders in order to achieve U.S. policy objectives, it has not been considered acceptable that they could do so for the personal benefit they might get from an investigation into political opponents, and many Democrats have said doing so, by itself, is grounds for impeachment.

Rep. Adam Schiff, the California Democrat who heads the House Intelligence Committee and is leading the impeachment investigation, called Mulvaney’s blocking of the aid “illicit.”

“With his acknowledgement now that military aid to a vital ally, battling Russia as we speak, was withheld in part out of the desire by the president to have Ukraine investigate the DNC server or Democrats of 2016, things have just gone from very, very bad to much, much worse,” Schiff said. “The idea that vital military assistance would be withheld for such a patently political reason, for reason of serving the presidential election campaign, is a phenomenal breach of the president’s duty to defend our national security.”

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Posted On 17 Oct 2019

Family found mysteriously living in secret room for 9 years

Ismailciydem/iStock(RUINERWOLD, Netherlands) — After a family of seven was found to be living mysteriously, and with no one’s knowledge, in a farmhouse on the outskirts of a small Dutch town, a court ordered on Thursday that an 8th person, the farmhouse’s tenant, be detained for two weeks.

The family had apparently been living in a small room in a farmhouse outside the town, perhaps since 2010, police said — a fact that has surprised and puzzled people in the Dutch town of Ruinerwold, in the north of the Netherlands.

The case came to light when a young man visited the De Kastelein café in town.

“Last week he came in and ordered five beers, which he drank in one go. But then we closed,” cafe owner Chris Westerbeek told local news station RTV Drenthe, which first reported the story.

In a later conversation, when the man came back on Sunday, “he admitted that he had run away and that he needed help,” Westerbeek said. “Then, we called in the police.”

“He said he had not been outside for nine years. Later, he also said that he had four brothers and one sister who lived on the farm. He was the oldest and wanted to put an end to the way they lived,” Westerbeek told RTV.

Local mechanic Jeffrey Scheper who owns J. Scheper Autos, also met the young man in the café. Reached for comment by ABC News, he referred to a television interview he gave to Dutch television host Beau van Erven Dorens.

“We tried to ask questions, among other things, because he said he had not been outside for nine years: is it a religion? A cult? He said yes, nothing more,” Scheper said in the interview.

On Monday, the police acted on his complaint that the young man was “worried about the living conditions of his family” and visited the house on the Buitenhuizerweg.

There, they found people living in a small room on the ground floor. The family told the police that they were all over 18 years old, although the police are verifying the people’s ages and their relationship to each other. They were taken into police care and were all seen by a doctor, the police said in a statement shared with ABC News.

The police say that it is unclear whether the family was living in the house voluntarily and how they came to be there.

“We understand that everyone still has many questions. We have those too,” police said.

On Tuesday police arrested a 58-year-old man who is the only tenant of the farm. His role in the case is still being investigated, according to police, but he is currently suspected of “being involved in illegal deprivation of liberty and prejudicing the health of others,” according to the North Netherlands Public Prosecutor.

Police said he was arrested because he did not want to “cooperate with our investigation.”

The man, identified as Josef B by RTV Drenthe, appeared in front of the examining magistrate on Thursday. The justice commissioner of the North Netherlands Court ordered that he be detained for 14 days “on suspicion of unlawful deprivation of liberty”.

“I have never come across anything like this before,” said Roger de Groot the mayor of Ruinerwold at a press conference.

On Thursday, police said — without any further explanation — that they had expanded their investigation to other locations in northern Holland.

Local man Frank Wijers, who works at the garage just beside the café, told ABC News that the story was the talk of the town. “It’s a strange story,” he said, “Quite a shock!”

“It’s a very pleasant community here,” he said. “When you participate in public life, it’s alright. But if you don’t want to, that’s alright too. People leave you alone.”

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Posted On 17 Oct 2019

Nearly 1M kids could lose their eligibility for free lunch under Trump administration proposal

SDI Productions/iStock(WASHINGTON) — Nearly 1 million children could lose automatic eligibility for free school lunches under a Trump administration proposal, according to a new analysis.

The rule, proposed by the Agriculture Department, aims to restrict broader access to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), otherwise known as food stamps. But the estimate of how many children would lose their eligibility for free meals under the rule was left out of the Federal Register when the proposal was announced in July.

According to an estimated analysis by the Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS), “as many as 982,000 children would no longer be directly certified for free school meals based on SNAP participation.”

Virginia Rep. Bobby Scott, chairman of the House Education and Labor committee, released a statement on Wednesday calling for the agency to “abandon” its proposed rule.

“The internal analysis released by the Department of Agriculture shows that the impact of its proposed rule would be even worse than we had feared,” Scott said. “According to its own projections, the proposed changes to SNAP eligibility would eliminate automatic access for free school meals for nearly 1 million children, and roughly half of those children would no longer be eligible for free school meals at all.”

The additional analysis was released by the Agriculture Department earlier this week, and in a news release, the department said it would reopen the public comment period for 14 days to “provide the public an opportunity to review and provide comment on this document as part of the rulemaking record.”

The publication of the new analysis’ comes after Scott requested the information in a letter to Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue following the announcement of the proposed rule.

Scott’s July 26 letter said that during a phone briefing with committee staff, the FNS estimated the proposed rule would “result in more than 500,000 children losing their automatic eligibility for free school meals.”

The proposed rule came after Congress initially failed to come to an agreement on SNAP benefits in the 2018 farm bill, and looks to limit access to SNAP benefits by not automatically enrolling individuals who are also receiving minimal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, or TANF.

When the rule was proposed, the department said in a press release that the proposed rule closes a perceived “loophole” in the application process to ensure the program provides benefits “with consistency and integrity to those most in need.”

“While I appreciate that the USDA finally released its analysis, which I requested several times over the last three months, this small step forward in transparency is overshadowed by a tremendous step backward in the fight against child hunger,” Scott said.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Posted On 17 Oct 2019

Victims of Hard Rock Hotel collapse file lawsuit alleging negligence

eccolo74/iStock(NEW ORLEANS) — Multiple victims injured in the Hard Rock Hotel collapse in New Orleans filed a lawsuit on Thursday against five companies involved in the construction of the building.

The lawsuit alleges that cost-cutting measures led to the use of inferior materials and that the companies were aware of concerns by workers that some of the materials used were too “thin.”

“This major building collapse would not have occurred, but for the negligence and failure of the defendants,” the lawsuit said.

The collapse on Saturday left two people dead and dozens more injured. One person, a worker, was still unaccounted for as of Wednesday and authorities said the chances of finding the person alive were slim.

The companies named in the suit are 1031 Canal Development, Kailas Companies, Harry Baker Smith Architects, Heaslip Engineering, and Citadel Builders. None immediately responded to ABC News for comment.

Rene Rocha and Steve Herman, the attorneys representing the 10 victims, said all of their clients are still receiving medical treatment and were not available for comment.

“Some are more shaken up than others, but everyone is shocked,” Rocha told ABC News on Thursday.

Rocha said they are still working to understand what happened.

“We’re gonna do everything we can for our clients to get to the bottom of what happened and to make sure that those who are responsible for this tragedy are held accountable,” Rocha said.

Regional Mechanical Services, an air conditioning contractor in Louisiana, identified one of the two people who died as Quinnyon J. Wimberly, an employee of theirs.

“His passion, reliability, and energetic nature were known and enjoyed by everyone he met,” the company said in a statement on Facebook.

New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell urged the public to continue to avoid the area.

The city’s Fire Department Chief Timothy McConnell said Monday the building remains dangerous and unstable.

“We’re a long way from being in safe mode,” McConnell said.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Posted On 17 Oct 2019

Russia says US diplomats approached missile test site, location of radioactive blast

ronniechua/iStock(MOSCOW) — Russia’s foreign ministry on Thursday said three American diplomats who were briefly detained in northern Russia had approached a closed military test site where a radioactive blast occurred in August.

The U.S. diplomats were reported on Wednesday to have been stopped and removed from a train travelling between the closed port city of Severodvinsk and Nenoksa, a village next to the test site on the White Sea in Russia’s Arctic.

The American embassy confirmed the incident, but said the diplomats had informed Russian authorities of their travel in advance.

Russia’s foreign ministry said the diplomats had told Russian authorities they intended to visit a different city, Arkhangelsk, which isn’t within a restricted zone, but then traveled to the closed area next to the test site.

“Clearly, they got lost,” the foreign ministry said. “We are ready to give the U.S. embassy a map.”

The ministry spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova, told reporters on Thursday the American diplomats had made two attempts to reach the restricted zone, travelling to Severodvinsk, a port city that’s home to Russia’s nuclear submarine fleet, with the goal of travelling to an area near the test site.

The three diplomats were stopped by police at a train station on their first attempt and turned back, but then rented a car and returned to Severodvinsk.

“There, they took a local train and went to a populated area where there is a testing ground and other defense facilities nearby,” Zakharova said. She said Russia would file a formal complaint to the U.S. embassy in Moscow.

A State Department spokesperson told ABC News on Thursday: “Just as Russian diplomats in the United States travel to learn more about the country in which they live and work, our diplomats travel across Russia as part of normal diplomatic activity in order to better understand Russia. As we’ve said before, the American diplomats were on official travel and had properly filed a travel notification with the Russian authorities.”

The State Department earlier had declined to comment on the incident other than to say the three had been on “official travel and had properly notified Russian authorities.” Russian media has named the three diplomats as military attaches, but American officials have not identified them.

The village of Nenoksa is located next to a secretive military firing range where Russia is known to test missiles. In August, there was an explosion close to the range that killed at least five people and briefly caused radiation levels to spike 16 times above the norm, sparking a nuclear scare.

Russia has wrapped the incident in secrecy, providing few details. But the Russian atomic agency has said that the blast occurred when an experimental nuclear-powered engine exploded during a test. Independent weapons experts and U.S. officials have suggested that the engine likely belonged to a new nuclear-powered cruise missile, code-named “Skyfall” by NATO, which President Vladimir Putin has said Russia is developing.

The reports about the American diplomats come just days after a senior State Department official said the U.S. had concluded the explosion happened when Russia was trying to recover one of the missiles from the sea floor after an earlier failed test.

“The United States has determined that the explosion near Nenoksa, Russia, was the result of a nuclear reaction that occurred during the recovery of a Russian nuclear-powered cruise missile. The missile remained on the bed of the White Sea since its failed test early last year, in close proximity to a major population center,” Thomas DiNanno, of the State Department’s Bureau of Arms Control, Verification and Compliance said in a speech at the United Nations.

Putin has touted the missile, which Russia refers to as “Burevestnik,” as having essentially unlimited range. The missile is one of several advanced, nuclear-capable weapons the Kremlin has said it is developing in an effort to counter U.S. missile defense systems.

Worries about the blast were exacerbated by Russia’s efforts to conceal its details.

Russia’s military initially said no nuclear materials were involved and information about the explosion slowly trickled out over several days. The information blackout drew comparisons in Russia and abroad with the 1986 disaster at the Chernobyl nuclear power station, though the amounts of radiation involved were vastly smaller.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Posted On 17 Oct 2019

Individuals tied to Giuliani probe in SDNY plead not guilty

ABC News(NEW YORK) — Two individuals with ties to President Donald Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani pleaded not guilty before a judge in the Southern District of New York on Thursday afternoon.

David Correia and Andrey Kukushkin appeared before the judge on Thursday. They were charged along with Igor Fruman and Lev Parnas last Thursday in connection with an alleged scheme to circumvent federal laws against foreign campaign donations.

Central to the campaign violation scheme were Parnas and Fruman, who were also reportedly working with Giuliani on investigating the president’s political opponent in Ukraine, but only Correia and Kukushin made the initial court appearance in the New York Thursday. The arraignment for Parnas and Fruman has been delayed until next Wednesday

Manhattan federal prosecutors at the hearing said they’re expected to turn over “mulitple gigabytes” of evidence that allegedly ties associates of Trump and Giuliani to a scheme to skirt around federal laws against foreign campaign donations and funnel the funds for campaign donations.

Correia’s attorney Jeffrey Marcus and William Harrington declined to comment after the brief court appearance.

Since the indictment, Giuliani has acknowledged receiving $500,000 in payments for work he did with Parnas. Giuliani told ABC News that he was retained by Parnas’ business “Fraud Guarantee” to do consulting work and insisted that any money he took came from domestic, not foreign sources.

Trump has denied knowing Parnas and Fruman specifically, though he is pictured with the two at multiple events. Fruman and Parnas have reportedly played a significant role in helping with Giuliani’s efforts in Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden’s son, Hunter Biden.

The indictment outlines a “foreign national donor scheme” alleging the men “conspired to circumvent the federal law against foreign influence by engaging in a scheme to funnel foreign money to candidates.” The indictment, details how the four defendants allegedly funneled “$1-2 million” from a Russian donor into the U.S. political system between June 2018 and April of this year.

Additionally, Parnas and Fruman allegedly made a series of illegal straw donations that included a $325,000 donation to the pro-Trump Super PAC America First Action, and prosecutors allege that the two violated the law by falsely reporting the origin of those funds as under the name of their newly-created company Global Energy Producers.

In the indictment, prosecutors also outline an alleged scheme by Parnas and Fruman to raise $20,000 for a “then-sitting U.S. Congressman,” who “had also been the beneficiary of approximately $3 million” from America First Action during the 2018 midterms. According to the indictment, Parnas allegedly met with the congressman and sought his “assistance in causing the U.S. government to remove or recall the then-U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine,” Marie Yovanovitch.

The indictment doesn’t name the congressman, but the description matches ABC News’ reporting that Rep. Pete Sessions, R-Texas, had benefited from $3 million in backing from the super PAC during the 2018 cycle, and that during the same month that Parnas raised funds for Sessions, Sessions wrote a letter calling for Yovanovitch’s immediate removal.

Sessions has since been subpoenaed as part of the Southern District’s probe and he told ABC News that he is fully cooperating with investigators.

Giuliani is not named in the indictment, but as ABC News has previously reported, the business relationship between the president’s personal lawyer and Parnas and Fruman is the subject of the ongoing criminal investigation being conducted by federal authorities in New York, with a primary focus on whether there were any criminal violations of the Foreign Agent Act in Giuliani’s representation of foreign entities.

Fruman and Parnas were arrested last week at Dulles International Airport with one-way international tickets, according to a prosecutor from the Southern District of New York, where Parnas and Fruman face charges. It was later reported that the men had dined with Giuliani in the Trump International Hotel in Washington a few hours before their flight.

Parnas and Fruman appeared before a judge in the Eastern District of Virginia the next day where the judge agreed to a bail package which included a $1 million bond for each defendant, the surrender of travel documents and passports, GPS monitoring and home detention.

As of Wednesday evening, Fruman had met the bond requirements and was no longer in the custody of the Alexandria, Virginia, jail. Parnas remained in custody.

The judge set $1 million bond or $100,000 cash for Kukushkin, who posted the cash alternative. Kukushkin was ordered to turn over his two passports and will be under home detention once he returns to California. Correia, arrested in New York on Wednesday, was released under the same bail conditions set at his first court appearance on Wednesday.

The next court date for Correia and Kukushkin has been set for Dec. 2.

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Posted On 17 Oct 2019