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FBI searches home of Giuliani-connected lawyer in relation to Ukraine dealings, report says

Home of lawyer Victoria Toensing also searched as speculation grows about scope of investigation

Oliver O'Connell
New York
Wednesday 28 April 2021 21:53
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While federal investigators executed search warrants at Rudy Giuliani’s New York properties, FBI agents also searched the Washington home of a lawyer close to the former mayor, according to a report.

Victoria Toensing, a former federal prosecutor and justice department official, was the subject of the second search The New York Times reports, citing people with knowledge of the warrant, which reportedly sought her phone.

Ms Toensing had dealings with several Ukrainians involved in the search for negative information on the Biden family prior to the 2020 election, according to the publication.

These include Dmitry Firtash, a Ukrainian oligarch currently under indictment in the US, who sought help from Mr Guiliani, the personal lawyer of former president Donald Trump. Mr Giuliani has denied any involvement in the Firtash case.

Ms Toensing is a Republican Party operative and a partner in the law firm diGenova & Toensing with her husband Joseph diGenova.

The couple was named to join the legal team led by Mr Giuliani to overturn the results of the 2020 election in which Mr Trump lost to Joe Biden.

Investigators showed up at Mr Giuliani’s Upper East Side apartment and his nearby office in New York City at around 6am on Wednesday morning and seized several electronic devices.

Mr Giuliani’s lawyer Bob Costello called the raid “totally unnecessary” and said it was only for “bad publicity” to “make him [Rudy] look like he’s some sort of criminal.” according to Fox News.

The search warrant suggests that federal authorities were further pursuing their investigation into whether Mr Giuliani illegally lobbied the Trump administration on behalf of Ukrainian officials and oligarchs in 2019 ahead of the 2020 election.

The Manhattan US Attorney’s office and FBI have sought for months to obtain a search warrant on Mr Giuliani’s phones, according to The New York Times

Mr Giuliani has not been charged with any crimes and he denies all wrongdoings, but a probe into his alleged involvement was ongoing. 

When Mr Trump was president, Justice Department officials reportedly attempted to block the Manhattan US Attorney’s office from obtaining a search warrant for Mr Giuliani’s phones. Once Merrick Garland was confirmed as Mr Biden’s attorney general, the Justice Department lifted its objections to the search warrant. 

In order for prosecutors to obtain a search warrant, they must first prove to a judge that a search warrant would likely provide evidence of a crime being committed.

Daniel Goldman, former lead counsel for the House inquiry in the first impeachment of former president Trump, tweeted that he believes that the office of the US attorney for the Southern District of New York had already obtained Mr Giuliani’s emails before Wednesday’s search.

He notes that preservation requests would likely have been sent to service providers to prevent emails from being deleted and that there could be more than just the electronic devices under review.

Mr Goldman says that during the Ukraine investigation “there was some evidence (and a lot of smoke) that Giuliani and associates were capitalising financially from his relationship with Trump (as well as politically). We never got his bank records but the SDNY likely has them”.

Paula Reid, a legal analyst for CNN, tweeted that both warrants were related to a foreign lobbying investigation: “Executing early AM search warrants on *lawyers* at their *homes* seems awfully aggressive for a *FARA* case.”

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