Pete Sessions, Ukraine and Rudy Giuliani: Explained

Pete Sessions speaks with reporters on Nov. 6, 2018, the night Dallas voters showed him the door.EXPAND
Pete Sessions speaks with reporters on Nov. 6, 2018, the night Dallas voters showed him the door.
Mike Stone/Getty
Keep Dallas Observer Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Dallas and help keep the future of Dallas Observer free.

Just when you, Dallas resident, thought you were rid of Pete Sessions, he's doing his best to pull you back in. The erstwhile North Texas congressman and current Central Texas congressional hopeful is all over the international news, and not because of blimps, burlesque clubs or maybe living in Florida.

It's a way bigger deal than that.

This time, through multiple media reports citing campaign finance records, Sessions has been identified as "Congressman 1" in the latest federal indictments tied to the administration of President Donald Trump and the actions of Trump's personal lawyer, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani.

Here's the short of it, with thanks to ProPublica, which published a thorough Twitter thread doing as good a job as anyone has explaining what's going on:

Federal authorities arrested two Soviet-born men who've helped Giuliani as Giuliani has wandered the globe investigating former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden and Biden's son Hunter Biden. Authorities arrested Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman on Wednesday night as they tried to leave the United States. The two are accused of breaking federal campaign finance laws, including helping "funnel foreign money into U.S. elections," according to The Wall Street Journal

Fruman owns a beach club in Odessa, Ukraine. That club's name? Mafia Rave.

Getting back to Sessions, the indictment filed against the two men says that they "committed to raise $20,000 or more for a then-sitting U.S. congressman ('Congressman-1'), who had also been the beneficiary of approximately $3 million in independent expenditures by Committee-1 during the 2018 election cycle."

Committee-1, according to media reports, is a Pro-Trump super PAC. The money wasn't enough to help Sessions last year. Colin Allred, his Democratic challenger, coasted by the incumbent on election night, winning by 6.5 points.

According to the indictment, Parnas met with Sessions around the time he and Fruman committed to raising the money and asked Sessions to help the duo's efforts to "remove or recall" Marie Yovanovitch, who was then the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine.

In a statement Thursday, Sessions said he couldn't confirm whether he was Congressman-1 but admitted being approached by Parnas and Fruman.

"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," Sessions said. "Over time, I recall that there were a couple additional meetings. Again, at no time did I take any official action after these meetings."

It was only after "several congressional colleagues reported to me that the current U.S. ambassador to Ukraine was disparaging President Trump to others" that Sessions says he wrote a letter to the secretary of state.

"My entire motivation for sending the letter was that I believe that political appointees should not be disparaging the president, especially while serving overseas," Sessions said. "I have been friends with Rudy Giuliani for more than 30 years. I do not know what his business or legal activities in the Ukraine have been."

Keep the Dallas Observer Free... Since we started the Dallas Observer, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Dallas, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Dallas with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


Join the Observer community and help support independent local journalism in Dallas.


Join the Observer community and help support independent local journalism in Dallas.