As the Justice Department investigation into Rudy Giuliani’s Ukrainian dealings continues, the Republican Party is ignoring the controversy and shelling out tens of thousands of dollars to a curious pair: a husband-and-wife team of associates who played key roles in his alleged efforts to meddle in the 2020 presidential election.
The Republican National Committee paid $20,000 last month to DiGenova & Toensing LLP, a law firm helmed by two longtime GOP insiders who are married to each other: Joe DiGenova and Victoria Toensing.
According to a campaign finance report that the RNC filed on Friday, the $20,000 was for “legal and compliance services,” and it was made July 12—just days after the D.C. Court of Appeals suspended Giuliani’s license to practice law in the city.
The RNC has never paid the firm before, according to records with the Federal Election Commission. And while Toensing is an influential GOP lawyer with extensive ties in Washington, her firm hasn’t engaged in much official political work. The RNC’s one $20,000 check actually outweighs the shop’s entire combined total in political payments since 2006, according to federal records.
It is, of course, perfectly legal for the RNC to pay this law firm. But it comes at a time when the GOP and former President Donald Trump seem to have almost abandoned Giuliani—as well as anyone else who’s wrapped up in the former New York City mayor’s alleged foreign influence scheme.
That scheme is now reportedly at the center of an ongoing investigation into Giuliani, and the probe has reportedly swept up Toensing and DiGenova.
Toensing, a former top DOJ official herself, was the subject of a search warrant this April when federal agents seized her phone in a raid at her D.C. home. An earlier “covert warrant” reportedly scooped up other communications via iCloud accounts belonging to Giuliani and Toensing.
“They have reviewed this information for a year and a half without telling us or Victoria Toensing,” Giuliani’s lawyer Mark Costello told The Daily Beast after the raids.
Toensing’s lawyers initially resisted the government’s efforts to review the evidence via a “special master,” peppering prosecutors with complaints about attorney-client privilege. Those negotiations may have bought Giuliani some time. But in a court filing last week, Toensing suddenly dropped out of the process.
Toensing and DiGenova have also played a part in Giuliani’s post-election court challenges, and they were central to the efforts to entice Ukraine to open an investigation into Joe Biden’s son, Hunter Biden. Specifically, the lawyers represented Dmitry Firtash, a Ukrainian oligarch who reportedly worked with Giuliani and the two lawyers to help take down the Bidens.
Firtash, who lives in Austria while evading extradition to the United States on corruption charges, reportedly collaborated in 2019 with Giuliani and former associate Lev Parnas to dig up dirt on then-candidate Joe Biden and his son Hunter. Toensing and DiGenova reportedly joined the effort that spring, with Firtash hiring them in June. In doing so, they replaced former attorney Lanny Davis—who had registered as a foreign agent for the work.
The next month, the husband-and-wife team met with then-attorney general Bill Barr to try to roll back the indictment against Firtash. For their trouble, Firstash paid Toensing and DiGenova as much as $1 million. In September 2019, about a month ahead of Parnas’ arrest on campaign finance charges, a lawyer for Firtash wired $1 million to a bank account belonging to Parnas’ wife, which Parnas’ attorney claimed at the time was a real estate loan.
Giuliani, meanwhile, claims he worked for Trump for free, which is perhaps part of the reason Giuliani says he’s broke.
In an interview after this article was published, Davis, who along with former Chicago U.S. Attorney Dan Webb recently resumed his representation of Firtash, told The Daily Beast that his client denies the allegations and had been roped into the narrative against his will.
“Mr. Firtash was never part of [Toensing and DiGenova’s] mandate to associate with Giuliani or anybody else to interfere in U.S. elections or dig up dirt on the Bidens. He did not have any conversations with Giuliani or finance those efforts, and never authorized anyone to be involved in that,” Davis said, adding that Firtash has said that while doing so might have “helped Mr. Giuliani, it would not have helped Mr. Firtash with his legal problems.”
The former mayor has been defending himself on several legal fronts, from civil suits related to his post-election litigation efforts to the federal probe into his work with foreign clients in Turkey and Ukraine. And the accompanying financial pressure has created rifts between Giuliani’s camp and former President Trump’s inner circle, with The New York Times reporting in May that Giuliani’s allies were pressing the Trump campaign to dig into its war chest on his old friend’s behalf.
While Toensing is apparently raking it in with the GOP, she hasn’t been much of a financial booster herself for the party. In total, Toensing has donated $1,025 since Trump’s election, according to FEC filings, and she has never given to Trump himself. In early January, she contributed $250 to the Senate Conservatives Fund. The group refunded the money a week later, federal records show.
The Daily Beast reached out to the RNC, DiGenova, Toensing, and a Giuliani spokesperson for this article, but did not receive a comment from anyone.
—Updated at 2:34 p.m., 08/24/2021, with comment from Lanny Davis