Victoria Toensing and Joe DiGenova, the pro-Trump lawyers representing a Ukrainian oligarch wanted by U.S. authorities on conspiracy charges, reportedly met personally with Attorney General William Barr in July—at the height of Rudy Giuliani’s hunt for kompromat on Joe Biden in Ukraine.
Citing three sources familiar with the meeting, The Washington Post reports that diGenova and Toensing argued against the charges facing Dmitry Firtash—who has been described by federal prosecutors as having connections to the “upper echelons” of Russian organized crime—in the meeting with Barr and other Justice Department officials. Barr is said to have refused to intercede.
Firtash, who has been fighting extradition to the U.S. on bribery and corruption charges from Vienna for more than five years, had only recently hired Toensing and diGenova at the time of the reported meeting. According to Bloomberg, he paid them $1 million earlier this year to dig up dirt on Biden in a bid to get Giuliani’s help with his legal woes.
While Giuliani has maintained he never had anything to do with Firtash’s case, Firtash reportedly bankrolled at least one piece of opposition research that Giuliani would later hold up on cable news as proof of Biden’s wrongdoing: a witness statement from Viktor Shokin, Ukraine’s former prosecutor general, claiming the former vice president had him fired to protect his son from a corruption investigation.
Giuliani told the Post that he “did sort of look at Firtash to see if he had any relevant information” that could help with his search for damaging information about Democrats. “As far as I can tell, he didn’t. I looked at maybe 20 of these oligarchs.”
A Justice Department spokeswoman said the Firtash case “has the support of the department leadership” and said DOJ would “continue to work closely with the Austrian Ministry of Justice to extradite Mr. Firtash.” Toensing reportedly declined to comment on the Barr meeting.
The Post also reports that prosecutors in Chicago who filed the bribery charges against Firtash in 2013 had previously come across two of Giuliani’s recently arrested associates, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, in their case. Prosecutors there are now said to be reviewing whether there is a larger relationship between Firtash and the Soviet-born businessmen accused of campaign finance violations.
Parnas and Fruman, who were reportedly enlisted by Giuliani to help find dirt on Trump’s political opponents in Ukraine, are accused of making an illicit campaign donation in a bid to have the then-U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, removed.
Giuliani claimed he did not know whether Firtash, Parnas, and Fruman had a relationship. “It’s none of my business,” he told the Post. Lawyers for Parnas and Fruman have not publicly spoken about their clients’ potential ties to Firtash.
Firtash reportedly hired both Toensing and diGenova this summer at the recommendation of Parnas, who is said to have worked as a translator for Toensing and diGenova in the Firtash case.
A Toensing and diGenova spokesman said Firtash had “no business relationship” with Parnas or Fruman. “No money has been paid to Mr. Parnas by Mr. Firtash beyond his work as a translator for the law firm,” the spokesman said.
Parnas and Fruman were both arrested at a D.C. airport before they reportedly could board one-way flights to Vienna earlier this month. Giuliani told The Atlantic that he also intended on going to Vienna just one day after Parnas and Fruman were scheduled to depart the U.S.