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Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden gestures during a campaign stop in Manchester, N.H., Oct. 9, 2019.

By calling for the impeachment of U.S. President Donald Trump this week, former Vice President Joe Biden showed a new urgency to maintain his Democratic frontrunner status and respond to personal attacks against him and his family by the president.

From the start, Biden's candidacy for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination largely rested on the argument he is the most electable candidate in a crowded field of Democrats.

But in light of revelations that Trump sought to enlist help from the Ukrainian president to dig up political dirt on Biden and his son, Hunter, Biden is making a new argument to voters that he will not allow the president to pick his Democratic opponent.

In a set of speeches in the early primary voting state of New Hampshire, Biden made the case that he was uniquely qualified to take on Trump.

"I said I was running to restore the soul of this nation," Biden said during a campaign event on Wednesday. "That is what is at stake in 2020. That's why this election is so important. And that's why we are not going to let Donald Trump pick the Democratic nominee for president. I'm not going to let him get away with this."

WATCH: Biden Campaigns in New Hampshire

Earlier this year, Trump temporarily withheld nearly $400 million in aid to Ukraine at the same time he was pressing Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy for assistance in obtaining damaging information about Hunter Biden's business dealings in Ukraine, while Joe Biden was vice president and serving as the Obama administration's point man on Ukraine policy. A government whistleblower's account of Trump's July 25 phone conversation with Zelenskiy prompted a House of Representatives impeachment inquiry into Trump's conduct.

"There is no truth in his charges and attacks against me. None. Zero," Biden told voters in speeches that largely departed from his signature campaign material to address the Trump controversy.

Even before the impeachment controversy erupted, the former vice president was facing challenges on the campaign trail. The 76-year-old politician invited speculation he is too old for the race after misremembering or incorrectly telling several stories illustrating his policy positions. He also faces a wide field of Democrats who offer progressive voters more attractive options than his own centrist policy positions. While Biden leads in some polls, Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, a favorite of liberals, is edging closer or in some cases outpacing him.

According to the RealClearPolitics averages of recent polls, Biden barely leads Warren among likely voters, 27.8 percent to 26 percent. Moreover, Biden has been trailing Warren and Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont in fundraising.

But Biden energized crowds of voters in New Hampshire this week, declaring that Trump "picked the wrong guy to fight."

Biden's call for Trump's impeachment and dire warnings about a crisis looming over American democracy were well received by voters who turned out to see him.

"Today is the first day I got emotional," Marsha Miller, a retired voter who described herself as a very involved and worried Democrat. "There were no gimmicks. There were no wild promises. There was just an honest appraisal as to where we're at and where we need to be. Hope. He provided hope."

With four months to go until the first in the nation New Hampshire primary, Miller said she is "real close to [voting for] Joe Biden. I thought he spoke the truth."

Cathy Robertson Souter, a freelance marketer and writer who describes herself as an independent voter in New Hampshire, said Biden was the third candidate she's seen in person this primary season. While she remains undecided as to who will win her primary vote, Souter said Biden addressed her concerns about Trump's threats to expose and punish the whistleblower.

"I liked that he stood right up and talked about what's going on now," Souter said of Biden. "He's really talking about how we can't let this happen to our country."

Biden also made inroads with Randy Neukam, a self-described progressive voter who said he wasn't usually attracted to centrist candidates. He was drawn in by the new portions of Biden's speech laying out the strengths of American democracy and the ways it is being threatened by Trump's actions.

"He makes me think politics could be vigorous and engaging and people could talk across the spectrum to each other he's that kind of guy. I don't know if I'm for him but I hear myself saying I'm for him," Neukam said.

But Biden's events in the southern part of the state also drew a small but committed group of Trump supporters. They argue that as a former senator and vice president, Biden has had his own share of unethical dealings with foreign leaders.

"He should be ashamed of himself with the shenanigans that he's been involved with over the years to try to point the finger at the president for things that are in the course of his responsibilities, I think are absolutely ludicrous," said Lou Gargiulo, a vice chair for Trump New Hampshire.

In a Trump campaign ad running now on local TV stations in New Hampshire, Biden is accused of boasting about forcing the firing of a Ukrainian prosecutor who was investigating a Ukrainian natural gas company that employed his son, Hunter. The former vice president unequivocally denied those charges in both speeches to New Hampshire voters, noting the removal was the official policy of the U.S. government and supported by the international community.

"What Trump did in Ukraine was to carry out a secret policyfor his own personal political benefit," Biden said.

For many Trump voters, the president's Ukraine phone call was in keeping with his broader message of addressing corruption internationally and not enlisting foreign support for his reelection campaign.

Chau Kelley of Vietnamese-Americans for Trump said "President Trump did the right thing drain the swamp. Those people benefit their personal pockets because they are selling out our interests."

Biden pivoted back to key economic and social policy issues at the end of each of his New Hampshire speeches. But for many voters, the 2020 election is shaping up as a broader discussion about the core values of democratic institutions and the rules of political discourse.

"We can't just beat Donald Trump," Biden says to close his rallies. "We need to beat him like a drum."

FILE - Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump embraces former New York City Mayor Rudolf Giuliani at a campaign rally in Greenville, N.C., Sept. 6, 2016.

U.S. President Donald Trump says he doesn’t know the two Soviet-born associates of his personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, who were indicted on charges of campaign finance violation Thursday.

“I don’t know those gentlemen,” Trump said Thursday, referring to Ukrainian-born Lev Parnas and Belarus-born Igor Fruman. “Now, it’s possible I have a picture with them, because I have a picture with everybody.”

In fact, records paint a much closer relationship, highlighting how the two Florida-based businessmen bought their way to the top echelons of the Republican party with hundreds of thousands of dollars in contributions to pro-Trump Republican campaigns.

As early as March 2018, Fruman attended a donor meeting with Trump at the president’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida, Fruman told the Russian news site ForumDaily. About 200 prospective donors to Trump’s 2020 reelection bid were in attendance.

“In the 2016 elections, I made donations to Trump’s election campaign fund, and now, a year after taking over the presidency, Trump decided it was right again to invite us and turn to his supporters,” Fruman boasted.

Staunch supporters

Fruman and Parnas were not just giving money to Republican campaigns. The two staunch Trump supporters eventually became foot soldiers in Giuliani’s campaign to dig up political dirt on Trump’s Democratic rivals. As part of that effort, they also sought to glean information for a largely debunked theory that Ukraine officials tried to rig the 2016 election in favor of Democrat Hillary Clinton, contrary to the U.S. intelligence community’s finding that Russia worked behind the scenes to help Trump win the election.

“They were directly dealing with Giuliani, and Giuliani was directly dealing with the president,” said Kenneth McCallion, a former federal prosecutor and defense lawyer for Ukraine’s former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko.

In the days since House Democrats announced an impeachment inquiry into Trump, Fruman and Parnas have emerged as figures of immense interest to investigators. Although not mentioned by name, they are referenced in the whistleblower complaint at the heart of the inquiry.

On Thursday, shortly after prosecutors announced the indictment of Fruman and Parnas along with two others, three House of Representative committees leading the inquiry subpoenaed the two men for documents related to the investigation.

Former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, center, flanked by lawyers, aides and Capitol police, leaves the Capitol, Oct. 11, 2019, in Washington, after testifying to the House Intelligence, Foreign Affairs and Oversight committees.

Moreover, Marie Yovanovitch, the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine who testified Friday that Trump had pressured the State Department to force her out after losing confidence in her, blamed Giuliani and his two associates for undermining her with false assertions. She suggested that Parnas and Fruman might have felt financially threatened by her anti-corruption efforts in Ukraine, The Washington Post reported.

“The fact that these two individuals were working with Giuliani and Ukrainian government officials to alter U.S. policy in that country will obviously be relevant to the impeachment investigation,” said Trevor Potter, president of the Campaign Legal Center, an independent watchdog that last year filed a formal complaint about the illegal donations with the Federal Election Commission.

Reacting to news that Giuliani is being investigated for possible lobbying violations, Trump tweeted, “So now they are after the legendary “crime buster” and greatest Mayor in the history of NYC, Rudy Giuliani. He may seem a little rough around the edges sometimes, but he is also a great guy and wonderful lawyer.”

John Dowd, a former Trump lawyer who represents Parnas and Fruman, declined to comment.

For years, Parnas, 47, and Fruman, 53, lived in relative obscurity in South Florida as they dabbled in a series of not always successful business ventures. Official records show Parnas set up and then dissolved nearly two dozen businesses in Florida in recent years, all while fighting a long-running, half-million-dollar lawsuit brought by a former partner in a botched movie venture. Fruman, though born in Belarus, ran small businesses in Ukraine.

Then in early 2018, the two men set out on a mission that landed them in jail last week.

Political fundraisers

Beginning in March 2018, Fruman and Parnas, who, according to prosecutors, had little prior history of giving money to politicians, began attending political fundraisers in Florida and elsewhere and making large campaign contributions to Republican candidates.

Using Global Energy Producers, a shell corporation created to disguise their contributions, they funneled $325,000 to a pro-Trump super political action committee (PAC), $50,000 to another PAC supporting the gubernatorial campaign of Republican Ron DeSantis of Florida, and tens of thousands of dollars to numerous other campaigns in violation of federal election laws.

In all, the duo pumped nearly a half-million dollars into Republican political committees, illegally donated money that Republican officials now say they want to donate to charity.

Parnas and Fruman have defended their contributions, saying the donations were their own money, spent in support of a legitimate company they set up to export American liquefied natural gas to Ukraine. However, in a separate scheme, prosecutors say they used $1 million wired by a Russian investor for a recreational marijuana venture to fund political campaigns.

Ukrainian-American businessman Lev Parnas and U.S. businessman David Correia appear with former U.S. Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX), Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX) and former Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-FL) in a 2018 screen capture from Correia's social media account made by the Campaign Legal Center and released after Parnas and Correia's arrests on federal campaign finance violation charges in Washington, Oct. 10, 2019.

Whatever its source, the money opened the doors for the two operators, leading to valuable face time with the likes of Giuliani, DeSantis, former Republican House member Pete Sessions of Texas and eventually Trump.

“They sought political influence not only to advance their own financial interests but to advance the political interests of at least one foreign official — a Ukrainian government official who sought the dismissal of the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine,” U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman said, without disclosing the official’s identity.

Ukrainian-American businessman Lev Parnas is seen in a 2018 social media post appearing to show him at the White House with U.S. President Donald Trump in a screen capture from his social media account made in 2018 by the Campaign Legal Center and released by them after his arrest, Oct. 10, 2019.

In early May, nearly two months after the Mar-a-Lago donor meeting with Trump, Fruman met with Trump again. This time, he and Parnas participated in a “closed-door meeting” with Trump at the White House, Fruman told another Russian news site called New Times shortly after the meeting.

“Only eight people” attended it, he said.

According to Fruman, the conversation centered on “preparations for the victory in the midterm elections to the U.S. Congress in November 2018.”

On social media, Fruman and Parnas flaunted their close ties to Trump and his inner circle.

Donald Trump Jr. is seen at a meal with, left to right, Trump campaign fundraiser Tommy Hicks Jr., Ukrainian-American businessman Lev Parnas and Belarus-born businessman Igor Fruman in a 2018 screen capture from Parnas' social media account made by the Campaign Legal Center and released after Parnas and Fruman's arrests on federal campaign finance violation charges in Washington, Oct. 10, 2019.

‘Incredible dinner’

On May 1, Parnas posted a photo of himself with Trump with the words “incredible dinner, and even better conversation.” On May 21, he posted a photo showing the two partners at a “power breakfast” at the Beverley Hills Polo Lounge with Donald Trump Jr. and Tommy Hicks Jr., the co-chair of the Republican National Committee.

“They were extremely successful with the contribution of a super PAC, as we’ve all seen now,” McCallion, the former federal prosecutor, said. “Mr. Trump might not remember it, but the nice smiling photographs of them with the president in the White House and certainly with Don Jr. and other senior Republicans at power breakfasts and other meetings.”

For Giuliani, who had been brought on board by Trump to defend him in the special counsel investigation into Russian election meddling, Fruman’s and Parnas’ Ukrainian ties were assets to leverage in his very public attempts to discredit the probe and dish up damaging information about Trump’s rivals.

In an interview with National Public Radio last month, Parnas said he met Giuliani

FILE - Rudy Giuliani is seen with Ukrainian-American businessman Lev Parnas at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, Sept. 20, 2019. Parnas has been arrested with another associate of Giuliani's, Igor Fruman, a Belarus-born U.S. citizen.

through Republican political functions two years ago and quickly struck up a friendship.

“We’re good friends. We spend time together,” Parnas said. “We play golf together.”

It’s not clear how and when Fruman met Giuliani. Giuliani has described both men as his “clients.”

Then last year, Parnas said in the interview, he started receiving information from sources in Ukraine about the Bidens and alleged meddling in U.S. elections by Ukraine, and funneled it to Giuliani.

As the president’s personal lawyer, Giuliani, a former prosecutor, ran a dual-track mission of rebutting charges of collusion and obstruction against Trump while chasing leads to support the president’s assertion that the probe was a Democratic “witch hunt” to undo his presidency.

Served as fixers

In the latter effort, Parnas and Fruman served as Giuliani’s fixers, facilitating meetings with current and former Ukrainian officials while traveling to Ukraine to press the government to investigate the Bidens.

The effort in support of Giuliani’s mission, which they claim was self-funded, gained steam in late 2018 and remained their main preoccupation over the following months.

In late 2018, Parnas arranged a Skype call between Giuliani and Viktor Shokin, the former prosecutor who claims to have been fired in 2016 at the urging of Joe Biden, who was vice president at the time and the Obama administration’s point man on Ukrainian policy.

In January and February, Parnas and Fruman met with Shokin’s successor, Alexander Lutsenko, and with whom they say they discussed the corruption allegations against the Bidens.

More meetings followed throughout the spring and summer.

But the effort wasn’t always successful. In April, the duo traveled to Israel to meet with Ukrainian tycoon Igor Kolomoisky to seek his help in arranging a meeting between Volodymyr Zelenskiy, the new president of Ukraine, and Giuliani, but Kolomoisky, according to Ukrainian media, rebuffed the request.

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