- Victoria Toensing was served a search warrant alongside Rudy Giuliani last week.
- She and her husband and law partner, Joseph diGenova, have been close to Giuliani for decades.
- They were instrumental in the Ukraine scandal that led to former president Donald Trump’s first impeachment.
- See more stories on Insider’s business page.
On Wednesday, FBI agents raided the Manhattan home and office of Rudy Giuliani as part of a long-running investigation into whether he broke lobbying laws related to his dealings in Ukraine.
That same morning, at 6:30 a.m., FBI agents showed up to the Washington, DC-area home of Victoria Toensing to execute a search warrant, taking one of her cell phones, a person familiar with the events told Insider.
Toensing and her husband and law partner, Joseph diGenova, have been friends with Giuliani for decades. The two have been a conservative power couple in their own right since Ronald Reagan was president. And while they don’t have the Trump-era name wattage of Giuliani, Paul Manafort, or Roger Stone, they’ve been involved in numerous scandals and legal battles related to Donald Trump’s presidency.
There’s no doubt that Toensing is also a central figure in Giuliani’s work in Ukraine.
She and diGenova have represented Dmytro Firtash, a Ukrainian oligarch connected to the Russian mob who is under indictment by the US Justice Department. Firtash has worked with Giuliani to push a conspiracy theory that Joe Biden himself had corrupt dealings in Ukraine. Giuliani is reportedly under investigation for his attempt to oust the US ambassador and push the Ukrainian government to investigate Joe Biden in order to help Trump’s 2020 campaign.
Here’s everything you need to know about Toensing, diGenova, and their involvement with Giuliani’s scandals.
The two became leading conservative lawyers in the Reagan era
Toensing and diGenova met in 1980 at a Republican rally and quickly became powerful partners in the Reagan-era Justice Department.
Reagan appointed diGenova to be the US Attorney for Washington, DC, a powerful perch where he oversaw the convictions of Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard and officials in the administration of DC Mayor Marion Barry.
Toensing was appointed the deputy assistant attorney general for the criminal justice division in 1984. The two grew into power at the same time as Giuliani, who Reagan appointed as US Attorney in the Southern District of New York in 1983, and they became friends and political allies over the following decades.
The couple left government at the end of the Reagan administration and, in 1996, formed their law firm diGenova & Toensing, LLP, based in DC. They became frequent cable news commentators, which diGenova has described as a great way to get clients.
The two became frequent critics of Bill Clinton’s presidential administration. DiGenova kicked up a cable news storm in 1998 when he claimed, with no evidence, that he and his wife were the targets of an investigation conducted by the Clinton administration. They have also donated to Republican politicians and right-leaning groups for decades, FEC records reviewed by Insider show.
In the Bush and Obama eras, the couple remained cable news fixtures advocating for conservative causes. Toensing, in particular, has promoted laws that give the federal government greater abilities to spy on US citizens. She also claimed to represent four people who she said were whistleblowers regarding Hillary Clinton’s actions in the Benghazi controversy, though she never publicly identified the people and they never came forward.
During the 2016 election, Toensing represented a person who claimed to have evidence backing the “Uranium One” conspiracy theory, which baselessly accused the Obama administration of approving a corporate mining deal in exchange for donations to the Clinton Foundation. The client provided no such evidence to congressional investigators.
The couple also worked on the Trump campaign, developing some of its positions regarding law enforcement.
Trump hired Toensing and diGenova to help with the Mueller investigation before changing his mind
Robert Mueller was appointed special counsel in 2017 to investigate Russia’s interference in the 2016 election as well as any coordination with Trump’s campaign.
DiGenova and Toensing, like many other Republicans, were among the Fox News fixtures defending Trump. DiGenova entered conspiracy theory territory, falsely arguing that the allegations were cooked up by the FBI and Justice Department to frame Trump and ensure he wouldn’t become president. Trump occasionally tweeted out diGenova’s views.
Jay Sekulow, one of Trump’s personal lawyers representing him in the Mueller investigation, announced in March 2018 that he hired diGenova and Toensing to help represent the then-president.
A few days later, Sekulow backtracked and said they would not be joining the team after all. Trump met with Toensing and diGenova privately and, two people told the New York Times, “did not believe he had personal chemistry” with them.
Sekulow said a conflict of interest prevented the two from joining Trump’s team. Toensing represented other people involved in the Mueller investigation, including Sam Clovis, a former campaign aide; Mark Corallo, a former Trump legal team spokesperson; and Erik Prince, a Trump ally who has a lot of legal problems going on. Corallo also later became a personal spokesperson for Toensing and diGenova.
The two represented a Ukrainian oligarch instrumental in Trump’s first impeachment scandal
Toensing and diGenova’s current predicament stems from the Trump-Ukraine scandal.
The messy connections between the duo, Giuliani, the Russian mob, and Ukrainian oligarchs culminated with Trump pressuring Ukraine’s president to investigate Biden’s family, which ultimately resulted in Trump’s impeachment.
The couple began representing Dmytro Firtash in July 2019. The Ukrainian billionaire became ultrawealthy as the middleman selling oil from Russia to Ukraine and much of the rest of western Europe — a role experts believe would be impossible for him to obtain without a close relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Since 2013, Firtash has also been under federal indictment on money laundering and racketeering charges in the US, court records show. Federal prosecutors say he played a role in a criminal conspiracy to bribe an Indian government official for titanium mining rights, and have also said he’s a major figure in the Russian mob. Firtash continues to fight an extradition case in Europe so that he can avoid legal proceedings in the US.
In the spring of 2019, Firtash reportedly sought Giuliani’s help with the Justice Department charges against him. Giuliani was a personal attorney for Trump, and Trump maintained a close relationship with his handpicked attorney general, Bill Barr.
At the same time, Giuliani was doing his own political work in Ukraine. He — along with Ukrainian nationals Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman — pushed Trump to recall the US Ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, falsely arguing she stood in the way of investigating corruption in the country (she had done the opposite).
Giuliani also sought to boost Trump’s 2020 re-election efforts by trying to push Ukrainian officials to investigate Joe Biden and his son Hunter, and enlisted Toensing and diGenova to help dig up dirt on Biden, as the New York Times reported.
Those activities are what landed Giuliani in hot water. Federal prosecutors appear to be looking into whether Giuliani was acting solely on Trump’s behalf, or whether he was also acting on behalf of foreign interests. Giuliani says Trump didn’t pay him a cent for his work, raising the question of who did. If prosecutors find that Giuliani was working for foreigners, they may charge him with violating the Foreign Agents Registration Act.
Firtash told the Times that Parnas and Fruman — the two Giuliani associates who are now under indictment for the Ukraine scheme — approached him in June 2019.
Firtash and a lawyer for Parnas described them striking an arrangement where he would hire Toensing and diGenova, Giuliani’s friends and allies, to help him deal with the US Justice Department and pay them a fee of $1.2 million.
At the same time, Firtash would do what he could to help Giuliani, Parnas, and Fruman with their efforts to dig up dirt on Biden.
Toensing and diGenova’s clients pushed conspiracy theories about Biden that led to Trump’s impeachment
Toensing and diGenova came through on their side of the deal — sort of.
They met with Barr in mid-August of 2019, though he reportedly declined to intervene in the case. Toensing and diGenova had known Barr since at least the 1990s, and their son took a powerful role at the Justice Department a month before the meeting.
At that point, Giuliani’s fishing expedition in Ukraine was already public knowledge and reportedly a subject of scrutiny within the Justice Department.
A month later, Viktor Shokin, a former top Ukrainian prosecutor, signed an affidavit “at the request of lawyers acting for Dimitry Firtash.” Shokin was fired in 2016 at the urging of the US, European Union, and multiple international institutions who said he stood in the way of Ukrainian anti-corruption efforts.
In the affidavit, Shokin suggested Biden, as vice president, was himself involved in corrupt dealings in Ukraine — but produced no evidence to back his assertions.
Despite the fact-free nature of the affidavit, it spread in right-wing media circles. Giuliani paraded it around on TV, holding it up as evidence of what he said was Biden’s corruption.
The affidavit — as well as other confidential documents from Firtash’s case — also frequently appeared in articles by John Solomon, another client of Toensing’s.
Solomon was a columnist and executive vice president for The Hill at the time, as well as a paid Fox News contributor, and he pushed conspiracy theories alleging Biden was mired in Ukrainian corruption scandals. Solomon had given Toensing, diGenova, and Parnas a preview of at least one of his articles accusing Biden of corruption before it was published.
Parnas, on behalf of Giuliani, also helped facilitate the production of Solomon’s columns and TV interviews. Fox News hosts who were friendly with Trump, like Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham, and Lou Dobbs, had trumpeted Solomon’s conspiratorial columns about Biden.
Firtash told The New York Times he did not authorize the release of Shokin’s affidavit or any other confidential documents from the case. Toensing and diGenova declined to tell the Times whether they played a role in leaking the filings.
The warrant served at Giuliani’s properties sought communications between Giuliani and Solomon, Giuliani’s lawyer Robert Costello told the Wall Street Journal. Costello told the Journal that the information taken during the seizure should have been protected by attorney-client privilege.
The FBI served a warrant at Toensing and diGenova’s home on the same day. The person familiar with the FBI search said prosecutors said Toensing wasn’t personally a subject of the investigation; an FBI spokesperson didn’t immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.
Costello didn’t respond to Insider’s request for comment about Giuliani’s communications with Solomon. Solomon didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.
Giuliani — Trump’s personal lawyer — attempting to dig up dirt on Biden in Ukraine and push conspiracy theories about him was just one element that led to Trump’s first impeachment.
Trump had a phone call with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky in July 2019 where he urged him to launch investigations into Biden and his son. Ninety minutes after the call, the Trump administration froze $400 million in military aid Congress intended to send to Ukraine.
The House of Representatives impeached Trump in December of 2019, and the Senate acquitted him in February 2020.
Parnas and Fruman are expected to face trial later this year on campaign finance charges related to the scheme.
DiGenova pushed conspiracy theories and called for the killing of Trump’s cybersecurity chief
DiGenova’s comments about George Soros — a Jew, Holocaust survivor, and donor to left-leaning causes who has become a frequent target of right-wing conspiracy theories — has, to some degree, marginalized him and Toensing in right-wing circles.
In an interview on Fox Business’ “Lou Dobbs Tonight” during Trump’s impeachment, diGenova bizarrely claimed George Soros was “in control” of large swaths of the FBI and State Department during the Trump administration and was also trying to take over Ukraine.
Two major American Jewish groups, the Anti-Defamation League and J Street, criticized his remarks. The ADL asked Fox News to distance itself from him.
While Fox News hasn’t responded publicly to the controversy, diGenova and Toensing haven’t appeared on Fox News or Fox Business shows since December 2019.
DiGenova later baselessly said in an interview with former Trump administration official Sebastian Gorka that Fox News was “compromised” by Soros.
Representatives for Fox News didn’t immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.
After Trump lost the 2020 presidential election, Toensing and diGenova had another shot in the spotlight.
It didn’t go well.
All of those lawsuits failed, and Giuliani and Powell are facing defamation lawsuits over conspiracy theories they pushed about the election.
Appearing on the far-right cable network Newsmax, diGenova said the Trump administration’s cybersecurity chief, Chris Krebs, should be killed for contradicting Trump’s conspiracy theories about the integrity of the 2020 election.
YouTube, Spotify, and Apple Podcasts removed diGenova’s call for violence from their platforms. Krebs filed a defamation lawsuit against the Trump campaign, diGenova, and Newsmax, saying he received death threats as a result of those comments.