Federal investigators looking into Trump ally Rudy Giuliani’s dealings with Ukraine are uncovering evidence that the president’s personal lawyer and two attorneys working with him likely violated federal transparency laws while trying to get the country to launch an investigation into Hunter Biden.
According to reporting by The Guardian, a federal investigation has revealed that Giuliani, along with attorneys Victoria Toensing and Joe DiGenova, may have violated a law mandating that Americans who are working on behalf of foreign governments must register with the Justice Department as foreign agents and reveal the details of their work.
The Ukraine scandal is the reason former President Trump was impeached the first time for trying to influence prosecutors in the country to open an investigation into Hunter, son of President Joe Biden, because Trump claimed without proof that the then-vice president had pushed Ukraine to oust its top prosecutor because he was looking into Burisma, a Ukrainian energy company on whose board Hunter Biden sat. People close to the investigation told The Guardian that three Ukraine prosecutors had agreed to tout the investigations into Hunter Biden, even if they were fabricated, agreements with Giuliani and his colleagues revealed.
According to the plan, Yuriy Lutsenko, the country’s prosecutor general, was to announce the reopening of an investigation into Burisma that would include the Bidens. A Lutsenko deputy would then lead the portion of the investigation looking into the Bidens and declare that there had been wrongdoing. Finally, Ukraine’s former prosecutor general, Viktor Shokin, would make a public claim that he had been fired because Biden wanted to end an earlier investigation into Burisma.
According to draft contracts with Ukraine’s ministry of justice, Guiliani would have been paid $300,000 or $500,000 to help Lutsenko recover money from foreign bank accounts that Lutsenko claimed was owed to Ukraine’s government. Giuliani also recommended that Ukraine compensate Toensing and DiGenova with least $250,000 to help publicize the accusations against Biden and Burisma.
A draft retainer agreement from April 2019 cited by The Guardian states that Toensing and DiGenova would help Lutsenko and one of his deputies, Konstantin Kulyk, find “evidence of illegal conduct in Ukraine regarding the United States.” A separate contract sent to former Ukraine prosecutor general Shokin stated that he would retain Toensing and DiGenova “for the purpose of collecting evidence regarding his March 2016 firing as prosecutor general of Ukraine and the role of then vice-president Joe Biden in such firing, and presenting such evidence to US and foreign authorities.” Both contracts specified a $125,000 retainer.
But those plans went up in smoke as soon as Ukraine elected a new president, Volodymyr Zelensky, who was not as easily influenced by Lutsenko. Because of this, Trump felt the need to call Zelensky to try to pressure him into opening an investigation into Burisma. That call is what ultimately led to his impeachment.
Giuliani, DiGenova and Toensing are all caught up in an investigation by the southern district of New York. In April of this year, the FBI raided Giuliani’s home and office as well as Toensing’s home under search warrants that sought “retainer agreements with any Ukrainian national including former prosecutor general Yuriy Lutsenko” and “evidence of knowledge of Fara laws,” the laws that require transparency from Americans acting as agents of foreign governments. A Giuliani warrant also sought communications between Toensing, DiGenova and Giuliani, a source who saw the warrant told The Guardian.