(C) Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Ukrainian-American businessman Lev Parnas and his his wife Svetlana Parnas leave the Manhattan Federal Court in the Manhattan borough of New York, U.S., February 3, 2020. REUTERS/ Bryan R Smith/File Photo
By Luc Cohen
NEW YORK (Reuters) -A onetime associate of Donald Trump’s former lawyer Rudy Giuliani headed for trial on Tuesday in a case that could shed light on how campaign finance operates behind the scenes, including during the Republican former president’s failed 2020 reelection bid.
Jury selection began in Manhattan federal court in the case against Lev Parnas and his co-defendant Andrey Kukushkin.
The Ukraine-born Parnas has been charged with concealing an illegal $325,000 donation to support Trump’s unsuccessful re-election bid.
Parnas and Kukushkin were also charged with illegally using donations to U.S. politicians from a wealthy Russian businessman, Andrey Muraviev, to obtain legal, recreational marijuana distribution licenses.
The case has drawn attention because of Parnas’ ties to Giuliani, a forceful supporter of Trump’s false claims that Democrat Joe Biden stole the 2020 election.
U.S. District Court Judge J. Paul Oetkin spoke with 35 potential jurors on Tuesday morning, asking them whether they had strong feelings about Trump and Giuliani that prevented them from being impartial.
He dismissed nine potential jurors, including one who said he had “been involved with politics my whole life” and another who worked at the Justice Department between 2006-2008.
One juror who said his brother worked as a real estate attorney at the Trump Organization was not dismissed.
Giuliani enlisted Parnas and another associate, Igor Fruman, to dig up dirt in Ukraine about Biden and his son Hunter before the election. Last month Fruman pleaded guilty to soliciting money from a foreign national.
The case is separate from a federal probe into Giuliani’s dealings in Ukraine https://www.reuters.com/world/us/judge-orders-special-master-review-rudolph-giulianis-electronic-devices-2021-05-28, including whether the onetime New York City mayor violated lobbying laws while working as Trump’s lawyer.
Giuliani has not been charged and has denied wrongdoing. His lawyer has said Parnas’ case and the lobbying probe are unrelated.
Jury selection begins in trial of ex-Giuliani associate Lev Parnas
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