Federal investigators searched the homes of Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani and former Fox regular Victoria Toensing today as part of a probe into Giuliani’s Ukraine dealings. Toensing was a regular Trump defender during its coverage of Trump’s “Ukraine” impeachment. You may recall her husband played a key role, along with Tucker Carlson, in pushing Shepard Smith out of Fox News.
The New York Times reported today:
Federal investigators in Manhattan executed search warrants early Wednesday at the home and office of Rudolph W. Giuliani, the former New York City mayor who became President Donald J. Trump’s personal lawyer, stepping up a criminal investigation into Mr. Giuliani’s dealings in Ukraine, three people with knowledge of the investigation said.
F.B.I. agents on Wednesday morning also executed a search warrant at the Washington-area home of Victoria Toensing, a lawyer close to Mr. Giuliani who had dealings with several Ukrainians involved in seeking negative information on the Bidens, according to people with knowledge of that warrant, which sought her phone.
Ms. Toensing, a former federal prosecutor and senior Justice Department official, has also represented Dmitry Firtash, a Ukrainian oligarch under indictment in the United States whose help Mr. Giuliani sought.
The federal authorities have largely focused on whether Mr. Giuliani illegally lobbied the Trump administration in 2019 on behalf of Ukrainian officials and oligarchs, who at the time were helping Mr. Giuliani search for damaging information on Mr. Trump’s political rivals, including Mr. Biden, who was then a leading contender for the Democratic presidential nomination.
On December 18, 2019, Trump was impeached the first time for trying to strong-arm the president of Ukraine into digging up dirt on Biden.
The Washington Post’s Philip Bump put together a terrific timeline of Giuliani’s “questionable behavior,” about which Bump wrote, “It’s unusual for one of the most scandal-adjacent members of a presidential team to be someone who doesn’t actually serve in government,” but Giuliani “has been entangled in most of the more serious allegations [Donald Trump] has faced.” Many of the entries involved Giuliani and Russian-connected Ukrainians.
Guys, I went back to put together a timeline of Giuliani's questionable interactions and you really forget how central he was to ~90% of the scandals in Trump's last three years in office. It's really amazing. https://t.co/IQygokRD5E— Philip Bump (@pbump) April 28, 2021
You may recall the role that Toensing’s husband, Joseph diGenova, along with Tucker Carlson, played in the October, 2019 departure of Shepard Smith from Fox News. From my post about the September, 25, 2019 Tucker Carlson Tonight show:
Carlson sided with pro-Trump lawyer Joseph diGenova, who has a history of unprofessional behavior, when he called Fox’s own senior judicial analyst [Andrew Napolitano] “a fool” for opining that Trump had committed a crime in trying to strong arm Ukraine into digging up dirt for his personal political benefit. The next day, after Smith called the smear “repugnant” and went on to cite numerous respected attorneys who agree with Napolitano, Carlson, of all people, accused Smith of being a dishonest opinion host.
Fox News brass reportedly threatened Smith with termination. That was reportedly the last straw for Smith. A few weeks later, then-Attorney General William Barr visited Rupert Murdoch at his home in New York, and two days later, Smith was gone from Fox News.
Shortly thereafter, however, diGenova and Toensing were mostly sidelined from Fox. Media Matters reported on December 6, 2019, that despite 66 appearances that year, mostly in September, they had been largely absent since October. Media Matters’ Matt Gertz wrote:
The couple’s apparent sidelining has come just when one might expect Fox shows to be most interested in hearing from them: Their absence from Fox Business has overlapped with the impeachment inquiry’s public hearings, and they have been off Fox News during both the public hearings and the release of witness depositions.
DiGenova’s last Fox News interview came just the day before the arrests of Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, and amid the revelation that the Soviet-born con men had been working alongside diGenova, Toensing, Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani, and conservative columnist John Solomon in a sprawling disinformation plot in Ukraine -- a massive ethical breach for the Fox regulars. And during his most recent Fox Business appearance, diGenova issued a widely criticized rant against progressive billionaire George Soros that was steeped in disgusting anti-Semitic tropes.
The recently declassified intelligence report on foreign threats to our election seems to connect some dots:
The primary effort the [Intelligence Community] uncovered revolved around a narrative – that Russian actors began spreading as early as 2014 – alleging corrupt ties between President Biden, his family and other officials and Ukraine. Russian intelligence services relied on Ukraine-linked proxies and these proxies’ networks – including their US contacts – to spread this narrative to give Moscow plausible deniability of their involvement.
I suspect a lot more will come out about these very dodgy characters that Fox News has championed.
You can watch Carlson side with diGenova over colleagues Napolitano and Smith below, from the September 25, 2019 Tucker Carlson Tonight, via Media Matters.
(Toensing diGenova image via screen grab)
Angry Right Wingers’ obsession with smearing the Biden family has led them down some extremely strange pathways over the past few years. It’s obvious that trolls like DiGenova and Toensing thought they could eliminate the threat of a Biden presidential run by throwing a bunch of already debunked dirt from Ukraine. This got the attention of Giuliani, who fell for every bit of the lure and pulled the Pence White House into the scheme. And then Pence’s childish spokesman stupidly tried to muscle the Ukrainian president into continuing the smear or risk losing US aid, and the rest of that is impeachment history.
At the tail end of the 2020 campaign, the same trolls attempted an “October surprise” with the nonsense about the engineered “Hunter Biden laptop” that just happened to pop up in a Trump supporter’s shop with all kinds of salacious material on it shortly before Election Day. Thankfully, nobody outside the angry Right Wing media bubble fell for that one, and it died as quickly as the nonsense from Tara Reade.
It seems that the same angry Right Wingers are refusing to acknowledge their 2020 loss and are now just trying to double down on their hatred. Which says a lot more about their immaturity than it does about the non-existent “scandal” they’ve been pushing for years.