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Giuliani associates charged with illegally funneling cash to pro-Trump group

56 Comments
By Aram Roston, Brendan Pierson and Karen Freifeld

Two foreign-born Florida businessmen who have helped President Donald Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani investigate political rival Joe Biden were arrested in a scheme to illegally funnel money to a pro-Trump election committee and other U.S. political candidates, prosecutors said on Thursday.

The arrest of Ukraine-born Lev Parnas and Belarus-born Igor Fruman at an airport outside Washington carrying one-way tickets to Vienna was the latest dramatic development in a political saga that threatens Trump's presidency.

Prosecutors said Parnas and Fruman conspired to contribute foreign money including at least $1 million from an unidentified Russian businessman to candidates for federal and state offices to buy influence.

Prosecutors separately said they donated $325,000 to a pro-Trump political action committee called America First Action in May 2018, and the money was falsely reported as coming from a purported natural gas company set up to conceal its true source, according to the indictment.

A fast-moving Democratic-led House of Representatives impeachment inquiry is centered on the Republican president's request in a July phone call for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to investigate Biden, the former vice president and a top contender for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination.

Democrats have accused Trump of pressuring a vulnerable foreign ally to dig up dirt on a domestic political opponent for his own political benefit.

Trump has denied wrongdoing and has described the impeachment probe as a partisan smear.

Giuliani has said Parnas and Fruman helped his efforts in Ukraine to investigate Biden and Biden's son Hunter. The younger Biden had served as a director of a Ukrainian energy company.

The two men were each charged by federal prosecutors in New York with two counts of conspiracy, one count of false statements and one of falsification of business records. U.S. law prohibits foreign donations in American elections.

Parnas and Fruman were trying to buy political influence to help set up recreational marijuana businesses, prosecutors said. They also said Parnas played a role in a successful effort to have Trump remove the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine.

"Protecting the integrity of our elections, and protecting our elections from unlawful foreign influence, are core functions of our campaign finance laws," U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman told reporters in New York. "And as this office has made clear, we will not hesitate to investigate and prosecute those who engage in criminal conduct that draws into question the integrity of our political process"

Berman served on Trump's transition team after Trump was elected president to prepare for taking office in January 2017.

The indictment said Parnas and Fruman falsely claimed the company, called Global Energy Producers or GEP, which was making the political donations, was "a real business enterprise" and that "its major purpose is energy trading, not political activity." In fact, the company had no real business, the indictment added.

The two were arrested at Dulles airport in Virginia on Wednesday night, prosecutors said.

John Dowd, the lawyer for Parnas and Fruman, declined to comment on the charges. Dowd previously represented Trump in former Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation that detailed Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign to boost Trump's candidacy.

Parnas and Fruman made their initial court appearance in Alexandria, Virginia, with another court date set for next Thursday. They were being represented in the court appearance by lawyers for Trump's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, who is serving prison time after being convicted last year in Mueller's investigation.

Federal Magistrate Judge Michael Nachmanoff imposed a lengthy, strict set of conditions that Parnas and Fruman must meet to be released, including each posting $1 million bond and being placed on GPS monitoring in home detention. The prosecution called the men a flight risk.

Asked for a response, Giuliani told Reuters he had "no involvement" in the flow of money at the heart of the Parnas and Fruman indictment.

Last week, he told Reuters: "Parnas and Igor helped me on certain things. They helped me with logistics. They know the Ukraine, they speak Russian. They helped me locate people in a few cases."

Jay Sekulow, a lawyer for the president, told Reuters that"neither the president nor the campaign was aware of their scheme," referring to the defendants.

The top Senate Democrat, Chuck Schumer, called the developments regarding Giuliani's associates "very troubling."

"Giuliani's been involved up to his neck in this entire mess. He has an obligation to testify under oath so he can be asked questions and so this can come to light," Schumer told reporters.

HOUSE SUBPOENAS

Parnas and Fruman were both expected to figure in the House impeachment drive and had been asked to produce documents and give testimony. Parnas had been scheduled to take part in a deposition with House lawmakers on Thursday, with Fruman scheduled on Friday. Dowd had called the lawmakers' demands"unreasonable." House Democrats on Thursday issued subpoenas for the men to hand over the documents and testify at a later date.

According to the indictment, Parnas also sought the help of a U.S. congressman - identified by a person familiar with the matter as Republican Pete Sessions - to get Trump to remove U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch. Trump eventually did remove Yovanovitch and called her "bad news" in his July 25 call with Zelenskiy.

Giuliani told Reuters last week he had provided information to both Trump and the State Department about Yovanovitch, who he suggested was biased against Trump. Yovanovitch is scheduled to give testimony in the House impeachment inquiry on Friday.

Sessions lost his House seat from Texas last year to a Democrat. In a statement quoted by Politico, he said his motivation in urging the removal of Yovanovitch was his belief that "political appointees should not be disparaging the president, especially while serving overseas."

In another development, House Democrats issued a subpoena for a member of Trump's Cabinet, U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry, for documents over any role he may have played in Trump's effort to get Ukraine to investigate Biden.

"The Department of Energy is aware of the House Committees' letter to Secretary Perry and it is currently under review by DOE's Office of General Counsel," said department spokeswoman Shaylyn Hynes.

Prosecutors said Parnas, Fruman and others also conspired to funnel donations to candidates in Nevada, New York and other states to benefit a planned marijuana business funded by an unnamed Russian businessman.

Two other people were charged in the indictment: David Correia, a U.S. businessman, and Andrey Kukushkin, a Ukrainian-born U.S. businessman who was a vice president of a Russian hedge fund before becoming involved in several marijuana-related businesses in California.

Photos from Parnas' social media accounts show him meeting on various occasions with Trump, his son Donald Trump Jr., Sessions, Republican congressman Kevin Brady and former congressman Carlos Curbelo.

In an interview last month, Parnas told Reuters that the FBI was investigating him but that he did not know why, and that he did nothing wrong. "I don't know what the FBI wants. I'm not going to comment, what they are doing. What they did."

Parnas said any violations of U.S. Federal Election Commission rules were unwitting and a "clerical thing" because he was not an experienced political donor. Parnas said he was not trying to hide the source of the $325,000 donation.

Kelly Sadler, a spokeswoman for the America First Action political Action Committee, confirmed the pro-Trump group received the $325,000 contribution mentioned in the indictment. Sadler said the organization "placed that contribution in a segregated bank account," and it has not been used "for any purpose."

© Thomson Reuters 2019.

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.

56 Comments

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But but but Biden!

8 ( +11 / -3 )

Two foreign-born Florida businessmen who have helped President Donald Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani

Previously I hadn't associated Rudy with corruption. He had a clean reputation prior to being bought off by the Trump-gumi. But as a New Yorker he must have been well aware of Trump's lifetime of shady dealings. Was Rudy given an offer he couldn't refuse by the Don?

2 ( +5 / -3 )

PTownsend:

They are long time friends.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

But I thought that it was the "crooked Bidens" that were doing all this bad stuff /s

Bwahahahahahahahahahaaaa

I'm shocked. Shocked, I tell you to find out that associates of Trump are engaged in something illegal!

Watch for these guys to flip and give up people higher up on the totem pole -- like Trump and Giuliani.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

They were being represented in the court appearance by lawyers for Trump's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, who is serving prison time after being convicted last year in Mueller's investigation.

Manafort, now there is a name from the past.

Oh what a tangled web we weave.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

I guess we will see another stunt in the media to distract or the US president will hold an unnecessary news conference saying "It doesn't have anything to do with me".

The president only uses twitter to attack and brag. He uses news conferences to defend.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Oh my.......tee hee har

3 ( +4 / -1 )

B... b... but Hunter! And 30,000 emails! And Whitewater! And....

5 ( +7 / -2 )

Two foreign-born Florida businessmen who have helped President Donald Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani investigate political rival Joe Biden were arrested in a scheme to illegally funnel Russian money to a pro-Trump election committee and other U.S. political candidates, prosecutors said on Thursday.

They're all just such scumbags.

8 ( +9 / -1 )

Lev and Igor were helping Rudy invent dirt on Biden as well as arrested for funneling Russian Oligarch money into our election! GOP donor, Kevin McCarthy too.

The president says he doesn't know them but there are pictures with him and them and his sons with them. I'm sure it's just another non Presidential lie.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Kelly Sadler, a spokeswoman for America First Action Political Action Committee, confirmed the pro-Trump group received the $325,000 contribution mentioned in the indictment. Sadler said the organization "placed that contribution in a segregated bank account," and it has not been used "for any purpose."

They must have known it wasn't legit, otherwise they would surely have added it to the pot and spent it.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Two foreign-born Florida businessmen who have helped President Donald Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani investigate political rival Joe Biden were arrested in a scheme to illegally funnel Russian money to a pro-Trump election committee and other U.S. political candidates, prosecutors said on Thursday.

Nothing surprises me anymore regarding the cesspool that is Trump-world.

Mob ties, crooked lawyers, Russian oligarchs, porn stars....just filth....

It's all coming out for all to see...

And has been mentioned, Trump supporters will avert their eyes and scream Obama, Hillary, Biden, Bigfoot, Chem trails, QAnon, Area 51 Aliens, and every other screwball excuse to try to delude themselves that the Trump Titanic isn't upside down and sinking....

7 ( +8 / -1 )

Key words soon to come from Trump and his cult followers: “witch hunt”, “unfair”, “pardon”. And “what about Biden”?

2 ( +4 / -2 )

What a swamp

6 ( +7 / -1 )

But I thought that it was the "crooked Bidens" that were doing all this bad stuff /s

We don’t know yet, but we will soon enough.

I'm shocked. Shocked, I tell you to find out that associates of Trump are engaged in something illegal!

You’ll probably even more shocked once Barr and Durham are finished with their findings as far in connection with the Dems and the Russians.

Watch for these guys to flip and give up people higher up on the totem pole -- like Trump and Giuliani.

You mean like the old wives tails of Trump in a hotel with hookers? Lol

-14 ( +2 / -16 )

But, but, but . . . I thought president Trump sent Giuliani to Ukraine to fight corruption, not bathe in it.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

There were actually 4 guys indicted, these are the only two who have been arrested so far, the other two are reportedly on the lam, trying to avoid law enforcement.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

As if on cue....

But I thought that it was the "crooked Bidens" that were doing all this bad stuff /s

We don’t know yet, but we will soon enough.

We know. Nothing. Dead. Nada. As your partner says, keep beating that dead horse...

I'm shocked. Shocked, I tell you to find out that associates of Trump are engaged in something illegal!

You’ll probably even more shocked once Barr and Durham are finished with their findings as far in connection with the Dems and the Russians.

You mean Barr and Burham and their band of 19 angry Republicans and crooked Trump supporters?

Watch for these guys to flip and give up people higher up on the totem pole -- like Trump and Giuliani.

You mean like the old wives tails of Trump in a hotel with hookers? Lol

Hey Stormy....

5 ( +6 / -1 )

So the people helping to look into Biden corruption are actually arrested themselves. Well that’s one way to try to discredit the investigation. I’m not surprised, something had to be done so that no one can find out what actually happened.

same like Epstein, now we will just “never know” what Biden was up to.

-12 ( +2 / -14 )

Yeah but foreigners donating to a “foundation” to get access? No problems.

U.S. law prohibits foreign donations in American elections.

-12 ( +2 / -14 )

So the people helping to look into Biden corruption are actually arrested themselves. Well that’s one way to try to discredit the investigation. I’m not surprised, something had to be done so that no one can find out what actually happened.

Yeah but foreigners donating to a “foundation” to get access? No problems.

I guess you skipped this part....

Prosecutors said Parnas and Fruman conspired to contribute foreign money including at least $1 million from an unidentified Russian businessman to candidates for federal and state offices to buy influence.

Oh my - Russia and Trump comes up again....

Wasn't it just yesterday a Trump supporter here was saying that mentioning Russia and Trump was "beating a dead horse"....

Well, this is the dead horse that just keeps on giving....

7 ( +8 / -1 )

So the people helping to look into Biden corruption are actually arrested themselves. 

No, if you had read the article, they were arrested for participating in a scheme to illegally funnel money to a pro-Trump election committee and other U.S. political candidates. The people arrested were also "not looking into anything" related to the non-existent "Biden corruption" narrative that you and others keep peddaling.

. . .you mean like the old wives tails of Trump in a hotel with hookers? Lol

Wives don't have "tails." "Lol" indeed!

6 ( +7 / -1 )

It’s literally the first sentence.

“Two foreign-born Florida businessmen who have helped President Donald Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani investigate political rival Joe Biden “

-9 ( +1 / -10 )

It’s literally the first sentence.

But it is NOT what they were arrested for!

Try again.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

So the good guys are actually the bad guys with no evidence against the Bidens.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

How much was Rudy Giuliani  involved?

3 ( +4 / -1 )

BlacklabelToday  10:05 am JST

So the people helping to look into Biden corruption are actually arrested themselves. Well that’s one way to try to discredit the investigation.

Leave Trump himself to do the rest:

WASHINGTON – In a news conference, President Donald Trump denied knowing two Ukrainian-born business partners indicted Thursday in connection with alleged schemes to funnel foreign money to U.S. political campaigns, dismissing a photograph that showed him with one of the men at the White House.

“I don’t know those gentlemen,” Trump told reporters on the South Lawn on his way to a campaign rally in Minneapolis.

Doesn't say a whole lot for their integrity, does it. I wouldn't personally like to get people the President of the United States has disassociated himself from involved in any corruption investigations.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Parnas and Fruman have little history of political involvement but ascended rapidly into a circle of elite Trump donors after Parnas gave $50,000 to support Trump’s election in 2016.

In March 2018, Parnas and Fruman began scheming “to advance their personal financial interests and the political interests of at least one Ukrainian government official with whom they were working,” according to the indictment. To advance that scheme, they allegedly made a $325,000 contribution to an independent expenditure committee and a $15,000 donation to a second such committee.

Previous social media posts and interviews indicate the duo interacted with both Trump and his son Donald Trump Jr., and had attended events at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club in Florida and at the White House. Fruman attended a fundraiser held at Mar-a-Lago in March 2018.

In a now-deleted Facebook post that was unearthed by BuzzFeed News and the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project, Parnas displayed photos of himself and Trump at an event that apparently took place at the White House on May 1, 2018.

Later that month, Fruman gave an interview to a Brooklyn-based Russian-language publication, in which he said that he and Parnas had attended an eight-person meeting with Trump in Washington the previous week to discuss the upcoming midterm elections. At the meeting, Fruman said he handed the president a personal note from Ukraine’s top rabbi, which he said Trump read and then tucked in the breast pocket of his jacket.

On May 21, 2018, Parnas posted a photo online of himself and Fruman with Trump Jr. and Tommy Hicks, a Republican fundraiser and close friend of the president’s son, at what he wrote was a breakfast in California.

The president on Thursday told reporters he didn’t know Parnas or Furman. And if you believe that, you'd believe anything...

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Oh but they were looking into it. As the first sentence said. Arrest your accusers right discredit them and anyone associated with as well as to intimidate any others with knowledge. This goes back ti medieval times, nothing new.

g in a scheme to illegally funnel money to a pro-Trump election committee and other U.S. political candidates. The people arrested were also "not looking into anything"

-8 ( +1 / -9 )

Oh but they were looking into it.

Really? How do you know that? Did you see a report? Are they trained investigators with a law enforcement background?

If you honestly believe that they were there "looking into Biden's corrruption," then I have some nice beach-front property in Nebraska that I'd like you to take a look at.

The fact is, they were there trying to cut illegal deals and engage in other crimes.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

They provided Giuliani with documents detailing how Biden received the funds; I believe $900,000.

Once again, whoever investigates the swamp seems to get into trouble.

-5 ( +1 / -6 )

Funny how liberals want proof of everything I say but then end with “the fact is”. What facts? What I said is supported by the newspaper article. Your “fact” isn’t there.

-8 ( +1 / -9 )

What I said is supported by the newspaper article. 

No, it isn't. They were not arrested for looking into Biden, and they were really not there as investigators.

Your “fact” isn’t there.

Perhaps Braille would help you then?

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Let me try one more time. The purpose of the whole article is to link the 2 guys to being part of investigating Biden. In order to discredit that investigation and alL people associated.

so if they were not investigating Biden how does it serve its purpose ot discrediting the investigation of him?

-8 ( +1 / -9 )

Let me try one more time. The purpose of the whole article is to link the 2 guys to being part of investigating Biden. In order to discredit that investigation and alL people associated.

No, and let me try again. The purpose of the article was to show how two of Guliani's stooges just got arrested for doing illegal things.

The fact that you want to turn this into some kind of conspiracy theory isn't going to work.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

Seventeen former members of the Watergate special prosecutor force believe there exists compelling prima facie evidence that President Trump has committed impeachable offenses. This evidence can be accepted as sufficient for impeachment: 1) the public statements by Trump himself; 2) the findings of former special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation; 3) the readout that the president released of his phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky; 4)  the president’s continuing refusal to produce documents or allow testimony by current and former government employees for pending investigations, as well as for oversight matters; and 5) State Department text messages indicating that the release of essential military aid to Ukraine was conditioned on Ukraine’s willingness to commence a criminal investigation designed to further the president’s political interests.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Asked for a response, Giuliani told Reuters he had "no involvement" in the flow of money at the heart of the Parnas and Fruman indictment.

Last week, he told Reuters: "Parnas and Igor helped me on certain things. They helped me with logistics. They know the Ukraine, they speak Russian. They helped me locate people in a few cases."

Hey Leningrad Lindsey, still want Crazy Rudy to come forward and testify?

Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said Tuesday he would like to invite Rudy Giuliani, President Donald Trump's personal attorney, to discuss what he learned during his controversial investigation into Ukraine... 

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2019/10/08/graham-invitation-giuliani-testimony/3909232002/

Lindsey must be hiding in his basement today...

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Blacklabel: Arrest your accusers right discredit them and anyone associated with as well as to intimidate any others with knowledge.

By whom?

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Let me try one more time. The purpose of the whole article is to link the 2 guys to being part of investigating Biden. In order to discredit that investigation and alL people associated.

Looks like you're having a hard time understanding this article (maybe on purpose) - let me help;

Two pro-Russian Ukrainians who worked for Giuliani were arrested and indicted for giving over $1 million from a Russian businessmen (not their money) to a pro-Trump Political Action Committee.

They used a fake company to make the illegal donations.

They were arrested as they were attempting to flee the country.

The Prosecutor who indicted them is a Republican who served on Trump's transition team in 2016.

Photos from one of the suspect's social media accounts show him meeting on various occasions with Trump and Don Jr.,

So, in summary - just another example of Russia, Trump, and corrupt and illegal campaign help....

3 ( +3 / -0 )

We know. Nothing.

Usually Democrats don’t.

You mean Barr and Burham and their band of 19 angry Republicans and crooked Trump supporters?

If liberals want to think that. Biden and Hunter need to take it all in. 3rd time a loss for Biden.

-5 ( +0 / -5 )

Oh Gee, what a serendipidous coincidence! Just when someone gets close to the truth in investigating grabby uncle Joe Biden, this comes up. Now please tell us, CNN watchers, that the swamp does not exist!

-6 ( +0 / -6 )

No, and let me try again. The purpose of the article was to show how two of Guliani's stooges just got arrested for doing illegal things.

But haven’t been convicted of anything, there is the presumption of innocence. I know liberals believe in executing people before any trial.

The fact that you want to turn this into some kind of conspiracy theory isn't going to work.

But we have to take the liberal conspiracy hoax?

-7 ( +0 / -7 )

We know. Nothing.

Usually Democrats don’t.

And?

You mean Barr and Burham and their band of 19 angry Republicans and crooked Trump supporters?

If liberals want to think that. Biden and Hunter need to take it all in. 3rd time a loss for Biden.

Can we all say "Witch Hunt"?

Oh Gee, what a serendipidous coincidence! Just when someone gets close to the truth in investigating grabby uncle Joe Biden, this comes up. Now please tell us, CNN watchers, that the swamp does not exist!

You must be posting on the wrong article because you obviously didn't read the one above...

5 ( +5 / -0 )

And?

And that summarizes the Democrats and their mindless obsession with this President.

Can we all say "Witch Hunt"?

But Dems want to pursue another one....again....lol.

-6 ( +0 / -6 )

I see lots of corporate global media articles about the supposed evil of Guilianis investigation of Joe Biden, but strangely I see nothing about the 900,000 Dollars that Joe Biden received from Berisma (the Ukranian gas company), just after his son landed at 600,000 Dollar/year job on the board of Berisma.

Really nothing to see here, or a blind spot the size of Bidens new 15 million dollar mansion?

-9 ( +0 / -9 )

Really nothing to see here, or a blind spot the size of Bidens new 15 million dollar mansion?

Bingo as well as the hair plugs and his shiny pearl white teeth.

-6 ( +0 / -6 )

The marijuana connection is an interesting new angle that perhaps shines a light on the strategy of the Russians who no doubt see the US recreational marijuana business as a win-win proposition: generating fat profits and, to Russian officialdom's way of thinking, at the same time promoting a drug culture with a Russian-financed, drug-filled Trojan Horse that, they hope, will undermine industrial productivity and weaken American society. Good luck with that, NYET!

3 ( +3 / -0 )

@willib CNN watchers

corporate global media

Each time rightist's mention the above it just reinforces the notion that free, for-profit media present info from an array of perspectives. Contrast that with Russian, Chinese, Iranian, North Korean, Saudi and other oligarchies where the rulers have state media tell their sheeple how to interpret events.

JT is part of the feee, for-profit press. It allows constant attacks on the free, for-profit press to be posted. Authoritarian states don't.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

bass4funkToday  01:25 pm JST

Bingo as well as the hair plugs and his shiny pearl white teeth.

Well, you won't mind people calling Trump orange and bloated while you have this weird obsession with Biden's teeth.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

WilliBToday  12:52 pm JST

Oh Gee, what a serendipidous coincidence! Just when someone gets close to the truth in investigating grabby uncle Joe Biden, this comes up. 

It's just as "miraculous" that details of a $900,000 payment from Burisma to Joe Biden have just surfaced.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Lol.

"Trump associates arrested trying to flee te country "

That's going to be a recurring headline until trump is excreted from power.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

I mean seriously is there anybody associated with Trump that isnt corrupt!?

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Really nothing to see here, or a blind spot the size of Bidens new 15 million dollar mansion?

you mean like the $40million and counting for Trumps golf trips to his own resorts, dont need to tell you who profits the most from those trips, all on the taxpayers dime and which is clearly stated illegal in the constitution

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Well, you won't mind people calling Trump orange and bloated while you have this weird obsession with Biden's teeth.

I don’t mind at all, used to it and you guys have a weird obsession with skin and hair. Be fair now.

-6 ( +0 / -6 )

Yep on the exact same day it finally comes out that the “whistleblower” worked with Biden.

guess Dems have looked at who is left and are putting their bets on good ole Quid pro Joe.

-8 ( +0 / -8 )

So Rudy was working with crooks to investigate the Bidens.

Will he work with the Mafia next to investigate cops.

Or Russian spies to investigate the CIA.

All of Donny's lawyers sure keep great company....

6 ( +6 / -0 )

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