Pete Sessions is “Congressman 1” in indictment of Rudy Giuliani associates, reports say

Multiple news outlets have reported that the former House chairman, now running for Congress in another district, was involved in the effort to oust the U.S. ambassador to the Ukraine.

Former U.S. Rep. Pete Sessions announces his candidacy for the 17th District at McLennan County Republican Party Headquarters, Thursday, Oct. 3, 2019, in Waco, Texas.    Angela Piazza for The Texas Tribune

Editor's note: This story has been updated with a statement from former U.S. Rep. Pete Sessions.

WASHINGTON — Former U.S. Rep. Pete Sessions is an unnamed member of Congress mentioned in an indictment against two business associates of President Trump’s personal attorney, Rudolph Giuliani, according to NBC News.

The two Soviet-born men, Igor Fruman and Lev Parnas, were arrested late Wednesday night at Dulles Airport outside of Washington, D.C, per ABC News. The Wall Street Journal reported that the two men are accused of “violating campaign finance rules, including funneling Russian money into President Trump’s campaign.”

Stay in the loop

The next time news breaks, hear about it first.

Regarding Sessions, the indictment against the two men states that they “committed to raise $20,000 or more for a then-sitting U.S. Congressman” who is referred to in the court document as “Congressman-1.” The indictment goes on to state that the congressman “had been the beneficiary of approximately $3 million” in donations from a campaign committee. NBC News and other outlets identified that person as Sessions and reported that the committee was a Trump-aligned super PAC.

Federal authorities alleged that around the same time, Parnas "sought Congressman-1's assistance in causing the U.S. government to remove or recall” the American ambassador to Ukraine at the time, Marie Yovanovitch. Yovanovitch was a well-regarded diplomat who came into disfavor within the Trump administration and was removed from her post earlier this year.

The Wall Street Journal reported last week that Sessions, in his capacity as House Rules Committee chairman, advocated for the ouster of Yovanovitch.

Sessions released a statement on Thursday afternoon, stating 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," he said.

"I was first approached by these individuals for a meeting about the strategic need for Ukraine to become energy independent," he added. "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," he continued. "My entire motivation for sending the letter was that I believe that political appointees should not be disparaging the President, especially while serving overseas."

Toward the end of Sessions' toughest — and unsuccessful — campaign for reelection last year, Giuliani headlined a fundraiser on his behalf.

"I have been friends with Rudy Giuliani for more than 30 years" Sessions said on his ties to the former New York City mayor. "I do not know what his business or legal activities in Ukraine have been.”

Sessions is now running for Congress in the 17th Congressional District, which is about 90 miles from his former, Dallas-based 32nd District.