And Mr. Fruman’s connections helped lead to a meeting between Mr. Giuliani and Mr. Shokin’s successor, Yuriy Lutsenko, according to two people with knowledge of the arrangements. Mr. Lutsenko, who was helping Mr. Giuliani unearth damaging information about the Bidens, also wanted Marie L. Yovanovitch, the American ambassador to Ukraine, to be removed from her post. She was recalled in 2019.
Efforts to oust Ms. Yovanovitch became a focus of Mr. Trump’s first impeachment trial and led to a federal criminal investigation into whether Mr. Giuliani broke lobbying laws, according to people with knowledge of the matter. He has denied wrongdoing.
But before serving as foot soldiers in Mr. Giuliani’s campaign, Mr. Fruman and Mr. Parnas were entrepreneurs who decided to create a company that would import natural gas to Ukraine.
Prosecutors said they wanted to bolster the company’s profile and began donating to Republican candidates and groups. Soon Mr. Fruman and Mr. Parnas were fixtures at rallies and donor gatherings in places like Mar-a-Lago, Mr. Trump’s Florida club. They were a memorable pair. Mr. Fruman, who was born in Belarus, spoke a mix of Russian and choppy English. The Ukrainian-born Mr. Parnas exuded sincerity.
A donation of $325,000 to a pro-Trump super PAC, America First Action, was reported as coming from the company formed by Mr. Parnas and Mr. Fruman, called Global Energy Producers. That broke campaign finance law, prosecutors said, because the money did not come from the company but from a loan Mr. Fruman took out.
Mr. Fruman and Mr. Parnas were also accused of soliciting the Russian tycoon Andrey Muraviev to send one million dollars to them so they could make campaign donations. The goal, prosecutors said, was to influence candidates who would help a fledgling cannabis business the three had discussed.
Communications obtained by prosecutors show that Mr. Fruman repeatedly pressed for that money, providing a bank account and routing number for a company controlled by his brother. Records assembled by prosecutors show that two companies owned by Mr. Muraviev wired $500,000 apiece to the company controlled by Mr. Fruman’s brother.