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In US v Parnas and Kukushkin Openings Cite Giuliani and Laxalt and Pete Sessions, Money of Big Andrey

By Matthew Russell Lee, Patreon Order Podcast Song

SDNY COURTHOUSE, Oct 13 - In the Lev Parnas and Andrey Kukushkin jury trial, opening statements took place on the morning of October 13. Inner City Press live tweeted it here (and podcast here) Vlog here.

Assistant US Attorney Flodr: This was secret foreign money influencing American elections. That is what this trial is about. So what will the evidence show? The Russian tycoon is Muraviev, who was called "Big Andre." He was the money behind businesses in the US

AUSA Flodr: Lev Parnas had become a big political donor, with a partner named Igor Fruman. [Parnas' lawyer last week called Fruman "the glue"]

AUSA: They wanted to enter the business of legalized marijuana. It was hard to get the licenses

AUSA: This group paid careful attention to the laws about legalized marijuana, but chose to violate the law about foreign contribution. Kukukshin and Parnas knew they could not say the money came from Russian Big Andre. No politician would take that donation

AUSA Flodr: So they used the name of their business, a so called straw donation. Kukukshin's boss would provide $1 million. Parnas and his business partner would hand out the money under their own name. There were two $500,000 payments.

 AUSA Flodr: Parnas' partner reminded Kukukshin that his boss was supposed to pay before the November election. Kukukshin pushed for the 2d $500,000 - and Big Andre came through a few days later. You will see they concealed the Russian tycoon's role.

AUSA: The money came from two businesses in Cyprus, with accounts in the country of Georgia. The loan documents do not mention the Russian tycoon or marijuana. It was just a charade. It was an illegal political contribution.

AUSA Flodr: Parnas set up a company, without any mention of the Russian tycoon bankrolling it. They used the import-export company. They spent on expensive flights & pocketed some of the money themselves. Only $100,000 went to contributions. Does that matter? No.

AUSA: The law is triggered at $25,000 and they went over that. Right before election day, tempers flared. Parnas wanted more money; Kukukshin said his boss wanted results. They fought over text messages. Parnas said, Let's not leave a record.

AUSA Flodr: They got happy: one of the politicians they supported got elected governor and took a selfie with Lev Parnas. Big Andrey liked it.  Next, he arranged a payment from Global Energy, GEP. It had not HQ, no assets. The money came from a loan on a condo

AUSA: Then there was an FEC investigation. Kukukshin told Big Andrey about it - showing that he knew it was wrong. Kukukshin knew Parnas was in trouble but went ahead and worked with him anyway. Parnas doubled down, a false affidavit, claiming it was all GEP

 AUSA: These falsehoods broke the law too: lying to the Federal Elections Commission. Now, the charges: conspiring to make donations for a foreign donor, and false statements to the FEC. Parnas is further charged with seeking $25,000 or more from abroad

 AUSA Flodr: This will be proved by the defendants' own words and text messages. They sent pictures with the politicians they were paying to influence. They missed the application deadline in Nevada, they needed the help of Attorney General and gov

 AUSA Flodr: They even shared news articles about their crimes. They left Kukukshin's boss off the forms, to hide the Russian money trail. You'll hear how Parnas presented himself as a major donor. You'll hear from the FEC. The American people have a right to know

AUSA: You will hear from a forensic accountant. The evidence will not come in in the same order as the defendants committed their crimes. By the end, you'll know the reason for all the lies. Pay attention, follow Judge Oetken's instructions, use your common sense

AUSA Flodr: If you do those things, you will find Lev Parnas and Andrey Kukukshin guilty. Judge Oetken: Thank you Ms. Flodr. Now, Mr Brody [Parnas' lead lawyer]

Bondy: I thank the government for the bottle of water. Parnas' lawyer Bondy: Mr. Parnas did not solicit Mr. Muraviev, or donate in another name. He started Global Energy Producers, with Igor Fruman, to ship American natural gas. He didn't make any knowing false statements.

Parnas' lawyer Bondy: You can throw the indictment in the trash. It has no evidentiary value. I'm proud to represent him. It's like we take a walk in the forest, bring your kids to swim in a creek, algae on stones. But turn it over- a brilliant universe underneath

 Parnas' lawyer Bondy: Sometimes the things we hear 1st of  someone are false. We will examine the witnesses under oath. You'll see documents from us. Lev was naturalized in Brooklyn as a teenager. Yes, he worked as a stockbroker. But he never graduated from college

Parnas' lawyer Bondy: He settled near Boca Raton, a community of Soviet emigres. He met Igor Fruman. Mr. Parnas around 2016 became involved in Republican politics. That might not be some of our's stripe, but he did it. He posted on Instagram

 Parnas' lawyer Bondy: Lev went to Washington, agreed to make a donation to America First Action, gas and oil industry. There was an even coming up, at the Trump International Hotel on 4/30/2018. It was a bona fide capital investment. Like a start up.

 Parnas' lawyer Bondy: They call it A-1-A, America First Action. They try to extract money from you and your family to max out. There'll be witnesses, trained in law firms - a chief of staff to Congressperson Pete Session - even they didn't understand election law

Parnas' lawyer Bondy: Mr. Parnas talked about supporting Mr. Sessions in the office - Caroline went across the street to do it. You'll see emails. Bundling, contributions on one credit card, that's what he was talking about with Ms Booth. She asked Pete Sessions

 Parnas' lawyer Bondy: She was told, it would be better on more than one credit card. Then there was an event with Donald Trump Jr, & with Donald Trump... Lev Parnas was fighting against cannabis prohibition. He brought the president a memo on legalizing marijuana

 Parnas' lawyer Bondy: There's the 4/20 meeting at Mar-a-Lago and the 4/30 meeting at Trump International Hotel. Then there's an FEC complaint against Global Energy Producers, calling it a sham company. That's not true. Mr. Laxalt was aware of it. Lev met Kukukshin

 Parnas' lawyer Bondy: Lev met Mr. Kukukshin, he's wearing a black mask. Our defenses are completely separate. They met in Nevada, to rally for Mr. Adam Laxalt, who will be a witness. Marijuana businesses rely on licenses.

 Parnas' lawyer Bondy: Nevada was the third state to legalize medical marijuana. But its legislator has short sessions so there is a lot of lobbying. You will hear from a Nevada cannabis lawyer.

Parnas' lawyer Bondy: Mr. Parnas started flying around with Rudy Giuliani, America's Mayor. Mr. Giuliani is not a cannabis guy... Mr. Parnas got a loan from Mr. Muraviev. He was allowed to use it any way he wanted - including political contributions.

 Parnas' lawyer Bondy: Some of these donations were made after Mr. Muraviev's money was dissipated, some were made with money from a coffee company, a client of Mr. Fruman. Mr. Parnas is not a diplomat, he is not a lawyer.

Parnas' lawyer Bondy: Mr. Parnas asked Treasury Secretary Mnuchin, when will marijuana companies be able to be banked? No one told him anything was wrong. He filed an affidavit with the FEC, and a supplement in September 2019. The DOJ was unaware until weeks ago

Parnas' lawyer Bondy: Mr. David Correia worked for Mr. Parnas  [and pleaded guilty; Inner City Press got his filing(s) unsealed: Unsealed affidavit of David Correia's quitting lawyers, Inner City Press filed to unseal

 Parnas' lawyer Bondy: I will explain at the end of the case, there was no knowledge. Mr. Parnas tried to move natural gas to counter the power of Russia. He tried to legalize marijuana. That's what this case is really about. At end, the only verdict is not guilty.

 Judge Oetken: Thank you Mr. Bondy. Mr. Lefcourt? Kukukshin's lawyer Gerald Lefcourt: This case is about how $1 million was stolen. Mr. client was charged in only two of the six counts. He was born in Ukraine and came here as an adult. He was naturalized at 26

Lefcourt: He was a tennis teacher and he met Andrey Muraviev, a Russian who wanted to learn about America. They became friends. Mr. Kukukshin got a job at a company with offices in Geneva and Moscow. They met again in Moscow. Muraviev was successful

Lefcourt: They decide to go into the legalized cannabis business in California, a medical cannabis dispensary in San Francisco then one in Sacramento. They bought property in Livermore, California, and started Oasis to cultivate marijuana.

 Lefcourt: Mr.Kukushkin reached out to Mr. Fruman, also from Odessa. What a mistake that was. That's how he ended up here. Fruman was a partner of Mr. Parnas; Mr. Fruman has the idea of getting Mr. Muraviev's money. He feigns interested in Oasis

Lefcourt: Mr. Kukushkin only met Mr. Parnas mid 2018, July, after all the Global Energy Producers contributions. Note - some foreign nationals can contribute to campaigns. Green card holders can. They had no idea of the rules.

Lefcourt: Correia tells Parnas that Kukukshin's issue is "retarded." They are looking at Kukukshin is a nothing. "He needs a lot of hand-holding on some very easy issues. This is a great opportunity for us." Kukukshin was just a way to get to Mr. Muraviev

Lefcourt: Everyone was in Vegas for a different reason. They arranged the $500,000 loan - and it was used to pay off a monstrous credit card debt of $495,000. So it didn't go for the joint venture. So the contributions had nothing to do with Kukushkin.

 Lefcourt: They claim in this chart they gave NY Governor Andrew Cuomo $125,000, and Senator Gillabrand other thousands. It's a lie.

Lefcourt: So the second $500,000 comes in. Fruman takes $100,000. Another $79,000 go to a credit card bill. And more than $200,000 to Global Energy Producers. Then jewelry. They just whack it up. They just take it.

Lefcourt: Now Mr. Fruman asks for another $2 million. But Mr. Muraviev shuts it down. There's no paying back. There are no foreign contributions. All Mr. Kukushkin and Mr. Muraviev wanted were licenses and offices. Mr. Kukushkin has never voted in his life.

Lefcourt: We all remember that at that time there was paranoia about Russians. The government is going to argue that there was an attempt to hide things. But there were no illegal contributions. Use your common sense and find Andrey Kukushkin not guilty.

Judge Oetken: Jurors, I'll give you a break, then I'll pass out notebooks.

On October 11 Kukushkin asked to exclude a slew of Government Exhibits, full 8-page letter on Patreon here.

On October 5 Judge Oetken held the final pre-trial conference in advance of October 12 jury selection. Inner City Press live tweeted it here and below (podcast here)

Late on October 7 the US Attorney's Office has written to Judge Oetken seeking rulings in advance to admit exhibits including "The Inaugural Committee Articles, the FEC Complaint Article, the Time cover, and the Russian Root Emails." Full letter on Patreon here. And now, song here.

On September 10, Igor "The Glue" Fruman pleaded guilty. Inner City Press live tweeted it here (with vlog; podcast here)

The case is US v. Parnas, et al., 19-cr-00725 (Oetken).


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