WASHINGTON (CBS NEWS) – Former Congressman Pete Sessions, who received large donations from the super PAC backed by Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, who are accused of conspiring to “circumvent the federal laws against foreign interference by engaging in a scheme to funnel foreign money to candidates for federal and State office,” said in a statement Thursday he had no knowledge of the scheme described in the indictment against the two.
While in Congress, Sessions questioned the fitness of former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, whom President Donald Trump’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani hoped to have removed.
Parnas and Fruman were associates of Giuliani.
The contributions to Sessions by the super PAC, America First Action, were first reported by The Daily Beast on Wednesday.
In his statement on Thursday, Sessions said that he could not confirm whether he was the congressman mentioned in the indictment, but that he “will vigorously defend myself against any allegations of wrongdoing.”
“If I am ‘Congressman One’, I could not have had any knowledge of the scheme described in the indictment or have involvement or coordination of it,” Sessions said.
Here is the full statement from Sessions:
“Today there was information about an indictment released by SDNY and I have read it. There has been a suggestion that I am ‘Congressman One’, which I cannot confirm. However, I will vigorously defend myself against any allegations of wrongdoing.
As it relates to my role as a member of Congress and a candidate in 2018, the most important sentence in the indictment is this:
‘The defendants concealed the scheme from the candidates, campaigns and federal regulators’.
Therefore, if I am ‘Congressman One’, I could not have had any knowledge of the scheme described in the indictment or have involvement or coordination of it.
I was first approached by these individuals for a meeting about the strategic need for Ukraine to become energy independent. There was no request in that meeting and I took no action. Over time, I recall that there were a couple additional meetings. Again, at no time did I take any official action after these meetings.
Separately, after several congressional colleagues reported to me that the current US Ambassador to Ukraine was disparaging President Trump to others as part of those official duties, I wrote a letter to the Secretary of State to refer this matter directly.
My entire motivation for sending the letter was that I believe that political appointees should not be disparaging the President, especially while serving overseas.
I have been friends with Rudy Giuliani for more than 30 years. I do not know what his business or legal activities in Ukraine have been.”