Patterico's Pontifications


Feds Execute Search Warrants on Rudy Giuliani (UPDATE: And Victoria Toensing)

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 12:43 pm

The New York Times reports:

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.

The investigators seized Mr. Giuliani’s electronic devices and searched his Madison Avenue apartment and his Park Avenue office at about 6 a.m., two of the people said.

. . . .

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.

Investigators waited until Wednesday as part of the federal government’s longstanding practice of carrying out significant actions relating to people in former president Trump’s orbit on a Wednesday, thus screwing up Josh Barro and Ken White, who record their podcast on Wednesday mornings.

The best line I have seen so far:

Meanwhile Rudy is doing what Rudy does best: planning to run his mouth.

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I flogged this in 2019, over and over, and I’m going to flog it again today: does it seem weird to anyone else that, at the same time Rudy’s pals Parnas and Fruman were pursuing a liquefied gas venture in Ukraine, everybody wanted to jump start an investigation relating to Burisma — a natural gas company? To quote myself, again:

Lost in the stories about the indictment is a significant fact: Parnas and Fruman were pursuing a liquefied gas venture in Ukraine, and thus could have benefited financially from an investigation of Burisma, Ukraine’s largest natural gas company. In this connection, I think it’s worth quoting at length from a post I wrote on October 2, nine days ago:

It’s good to see that Trump superfans are totally concerned about people with ties to the U.S. government using those ties to further their personal interests, or the interests of people they represent. That’s how I know Trump superfans will totally be Very Concerned about this:

The hunt by President Trump’s attorney Rudolph W. Giuliani for material in Ukraine damaging to Democrats has put a spotlight on business ties he has had in the former Soviet republic for at least a decade, work that has introduced him to high-level Ukrainian financial and political circles.

Giuliani has said he has been working for free solely to benefit his client, Trump, as he has sought information from Ukrainian officials — an effort that has spurred a House impeachment inquiry into whether the president abused his power.

However, House investigators are now seeking records about Giuliani’s past clientele in Ukraine, including Pavel Fuks, a wealthy developer who financed consulting work Giuliani did in 2017 for the city of Kharkiv. That same year, according to court filings, Fuks said he was banned from entering the United States for five years. The documents do not specify why.

House committees have also requested documents and depositions from two of Giuliani’s current clients, Florida-based businessmen who have been pursuing opportunities in Ukraine for a new liquefied natural gas venture.

The men, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, have been assisting Giuliani’s push to get Ukrainian officials to investigate former vice president Joe Biden and his son and Giuliani’s claim that Democrats conspired with Ukrainians in the 2016 campaign.

A new liquefied natural gas venture. Hmmmmmmm. Does that sound familiar, Trump superfans?

Oooh! I know. Burisma is a natural gas company. In fact, the largest one in Ukraine.

And Rudy represents their competitors. Competitors who would stand to gain a lot if Burisma were criminally investigated in Ukraine.


By the way: why didn’t this happen earlier? That would be because Billy Barr’s DoJ kept blocking career prosecutors’ attempts to obtain a search warrant:

The United States attorney’s office in Manhattan and the F.B.I. had sought for months to secure search warrants for Mr. Giuliani’s phones and electronic devices.

Under Mr. Trump, senior political appointees in the Justice Department repeatedly sought to block such a warrant, The New York Times reported, slowing the investigation as it was gaining momentum last year. After Merrick B. Garland was confirmed as Mr. Biden’s attorney general, the Justice Department lifted its objection to the search.

Why, other than Giuliani being Trump’s lawyer, would the Trump toadies be concerned by a warrant on Giuliani? Let’s dig even deeper, shall we? Victoria Toensing was also targeted by the feds today:

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 name “Dmitry Firtash” also should sound familiar to regular readers. I commend to you this post I wrote on November 25, 2019, which (to my knowledge uniquely and originally, at the time) made the connection between Firtash’s indictment for violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and a Very Mysterious Meeting Giuliani had held with DoJ officials — before those officials were aware that Giuliani was being criminally investigated — with the purpose of said meeting being “to discuss a case related to the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.” I can’t summarize the entirety of my argument from my 2019 post, but here was my conclusion:

You tell me, but to me it sounds a lot like Giuliani promised this Firtash guy help with his case — and delivered, using his connections with Trump to leverage a meeting with the guy running the Criminal Division (a guy, Brian Benczkowski, who has ties to a prominent Russian bank, by the way, who helped Barr make an instantaneous determination that the Ukranian mess was not criminal action on Trump’s part) — apparently in trade for help with getting dirt on Biden.

And getting dirt on Biden, we all know, was very important to one Donald J. Trump. Why, I seem to recall his being impeached over it, in fact.

It’s probably also worth noting that in December 2019, about three weeks after I wrote that post, it was reported that Firtash’s lawyer had made a $1 million payment to Parnas.

“Always trust content from Patterico,” I tell you folks all the time. In coming days and weeks, I guess we’ll get to see just how prescient I was about all of this.

UPDATE: Never mind?

UPDATE x2: Nope, I think there may be a connection there after all.

Another Day, Another Huge Spending Proposal

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 8:29 am

The Washington Post has the details.

The White House on Wednesday unveiled a $1.8 trillion spending and tax plan aimed at dramatically expanding access to education and safety-net programs for families, the latest effort by President Biden to try to turn some of his campaign promises into new policy.

A trillion here, a trillion there, and pretty soon you’re talking about real money. You have your $1.9 trillion for stimulus, your $2.3 trillion for infrastructure, and now your $1.8 trillion for goodies for the family (details in a moment). By my math, that’s a cool $6 trillion.

The national debt today is over $28 trillion.

So, what are we supposed to spend this money on?

Biden’s plan proposes a suite of domestic policies that would collectively represent a marked change in how Americans interact with the federal government.

The White House says its proposal would provide every American with two years of tuition-free community college; prekindergarten for all 3- and 4-year-olds; and paid family and medical leave for American workers. Among its sweeping agenda items, the plan also calls for devoting hundreds of billions of dollars to fighting child poverty and ensuring affordable child care nationwide.

To pay for these initiatives, White House officials are also proposing $1.5 trillion in tax hikes aimed primarily at increasing the amount paid by wealthy Americans and investors. The White House aims to raise money through a sizable increase in enforcement by the Internal Revenue Service, as well as approximately doubling the capital gains tax rate for those earning more than $1 million per year — a measure that would apply to a small fraction of Americans but is likely to face resistance on Capitol Hill.

Ivanka was a big fan of the paid family leave, so we at least have some continuity there.

The article adds: “The president also proposes subsidizing tuition for students from families earning less than $125,000 enrolled at historically Black institutions, tribal colleges and other minority-serving institutions for two years.” Regular readers know my fondness for allocating government benefits on the basis of race, so this is just lovely.

Biden’s giving a big speech tonight. I do not watch tripe like that, so you guys will have to let me know how it went.

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