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Expert: Rudy Lied About The Search Warrants Executed On Him

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

On Wednesday, April 28, the New York City home and office of Republican Rudy Giuliani — former New York City mayor and a personal attorney for former President Donald Trump — were searched by FBI agents. Kimberly Wehle, a law professor at the University of Baltimore and former assistant U.S. attorney, offers some legal analysis of the raid in an article published by the conservative website The Bulwark on April 30.

Wehle explains, "FBI agents executed a search warrant at Giuliani's home and office on Wednesday, seizing material that included phones and computers, and at the Washington, D.C.-area home of lawyer Victoria Toensing. Toensing is a former federal prosecutor and Giuliani affiliate who, along with her husband Joseph diGenova, was reportedly involved in collecting information about Joe Biden's activities in Ukraine from back when he served as vice president."

The law professor and Never Trump conservative notes that in October 2019, major media reported that the U.S. Department of Justice was "criminally investigating" Giuliani. Back then, Trump was still president, and loyalist William Barr was his attorney general. But in April 2021, Joe Biden is now president, with Attorney General Merrick Garland serving in the position once held by Barr. And while senior officials in the Trump-era DOJ, according to the New York Times, were able to block search warrants aimed at Giuliani, the environment at the DOJ is much different under President Biden.

"Of course, this is bad news for Giuliani and for Donald Trump, who is now a private citizen and no longer protected by DOJ's internal ban on criminal actions against sitting presidents," Wehle observes. "The attorney general is not fooling around."

When Trump was president, he typically described any investigation of either himself or his allies as a "witch hunt" — and similarly, Giuliani's attorneys have denounced the April 28 FBI raid as "legal thuggery." But Wehle stresses that "given Giuliani's attorney status and connection to a former president, the decision to pursue such a warrant was no doubt vetted at the highest levels of DOJ."

"The Giuliani probe arose out of the Southern District of New York in connection with the arrests of Lev Parnas and Igor Furman, two former business partners of Giuliani who were indicted on four counts of conspiracy relating to foreign donations in elections and falsifying information to the Federal Election Commission," Wehle notes. "Their trial is scheduled for October 2021."

Trump is the only president in U.S. history who was impeached twice. The first impeachment occurred in 2019 as a result of Trump trying to pressure Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky into investigating Biden and his son, Hunter Biden. Pursuing opposition research on a political rival is hardly unusual in U.S. politics, but as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Rep. Adam Schiff emphasized during Trump's first impeachment trial, requesting such an investigation from a foreign leader seriously crossed the line.

Giuliani, in 2019, was among the Trump allies who was pursuing dirt on the Bidens.

Wehle notes, "Giuliani is reportedly under investigation for potential crimes under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA), which makes it illegal to act as an 'agent of a foreign principal' without registering with DOJ. As the DOJ explains on its website, the purpose of FARA is 'to identify foreign influence in the United States and address threats to national security' by promoting 'transparency' and 'ensuring that the United States government and the public know the source of certain information from foreign agents intended to influence American public opinion, policy, and laws.'"

Feds Request Permission To Subpoena Giuliani’s Electronic Records

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

According to NBC News, prosecutors with the Southern District of New York (SDNY) have been involved in discussions with the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington, D.C., regarding Rudy Giuliani's electronic communications. Officials are looking to obtain access to Giuliani's emails, according to two insiders. To be granted access, the SDNY must receive approval from the Justice Department to move forward with requesting a search warrant signed by a federal judge. However, it is still unclear whether or not the Justice Department has granted the request.

The full spectrum of the current investigation is also an aspect that remains unclear. However, the Wall Street Journal reported details about the October 2019 investigative probe into Giuliani's Ukraine business transactions as it revealed SDNY prosecutors were reviewing the embattled attorney's bank records. Around that time, two of Giuliani's previous associates —Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman— were arrested on a string of fraud-related charges.

Another aspect of the investigation that suggests it is still "very active" is prosecutors' pursuit of witnesses and the search for more documentation to build the case. Chuck Rosenberg, a current NBC News analyst and former attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, explained why the Justice Department might be hesitant to grant this type of request from SDNY.

"It's sensible to perhaps treat a search warrant as an overt investigative step," said Rosenberg. "Search warrants for a subject's personal belongings are not terribly discreet and the recipient of the warrant can talk about it. That could be a legitimate concern before an election but the equation changes after an election, when you no longer need to abstain from overt investigative steps."

Spokespersons for both law enforcement agencies have declined to comment on the latest reports. Giuliani's own lawyer Robert Costello also released a brief statement to NBC News.

"I have no reason to believe there's any truth to the allegations that there is renewed interest in my client."

‘The Hill’ Posts Damning Report On Solomon’s Role In Ukraine Scandal

Reprinted with permission from MediaMatters.

The Hill on Wednesday published its internal review of former columnist John Solomon’s role in the Trump-Ukraine scandal, in which he pushed a series of smear narratives against key Democratic figures — smears that have continued in Solomon’s new role as a Fox News contributor, and which that network’s own internal research division knows to be false.

Not that the review itself can just easily wash away The Hill’s sins. The article states: “This review was conducted independently by The Hill’s news staff under the direction of Editor-in-Chief Bob Cusack.” While The Hill perhaps means it was done “independently” of the opinion section, where Solomon officially worked, the supervision of the paper’s editor-in-chief and the involvement of its own news staff would also mean it’s not really “independent” — which would have required some kind of outside oversight.

The report is also flawed in that it only focuses on Solomon’s work in the Ukraine story — not branching out into other stories in which he clearly committed the same ethical transgressions. For example, the connection between Solomon’s reporting and his attorneys Joe diGenova and Victoria Toensing — a point of criticism in The Hill’s review — was also apparent in his columns pushing the Uranium One narrative. (Solomon had cited an anonymous source for the anti-Clinton conspiracy theory, who turned out to be another one of Toensing’s clients, lobbyist William Douglas Campbell.)

National security reporter Marcy Wheeler noted another missing line of inquiry:

Despite these shortcomings, the report is still quite damning of both Solomon’s behavior and The Hill’s longtime tolerance of it.

The review explains how Solomon misused his official title as an opinion columnist, while seemingly offering up investigative news reports — and The Hill didn’t do anything about it, thus creating an opportunity for Fox News to further spread Solomon’s stories around:

While Solomon’s columns on Ukraine were labeled as opinion, they largely read like news stories. Adding to the potential confusion between opinion and news, Solomon was identified as “an award-winning journalist” in his column tagline. When appearing on television to discuss his Ukraine columns, Solomon was not typically labeled an opinion writer by the broadcast programs. The Hill did not contact television producers to label Solomon as an opinion columnist. It should have.

Lending further support to an impression that the columns were more like news stories, rather than opinion columns, Solomon’s Ukraine columns were longer than typical opinion pieces, in many cases contained what could be viewed or was identified by him as original reporting, and stuck to one general topic. This may have suggested to many readers it was an investigative series, which normally resides in the news department, rather than opinion. Solomon’s subsequent appearances on Fox News where he was often identified as an investigative journalist further potentially blurred the distinction between news and opinion in the minds of some readers.

A cursory search on Nexis shows that Hannity and other Fox News hosts have referred to Solomon as an “investigative journalist” or “investigate reporter” over 100 times since January 2018. (Indeed, this point was a bone of contention in the internal Fox News document, as well.)

As for Solomon’s actual columns, The Hill’s review goes into Solomon’s crucial omissions of his sources’ own agendas: “In certain columns, Solomon failed to identify important details about key Ukrainian sources, including the fact that they had been indicted or were under investigation. In other cases, the sources were his own attorneys.”

Those attorneys are diGenova and Toensing, who also have previous legal ties to President Donald Trump and have made over 100 appearances on Fox News, though they are currently missing from the network. (Solomon has also revealed recently that diGenova and Toensing introduced him to indicted Giuliani associate Lev Parnas.)

The review also further exposes Solomon’s role in working with Trump personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, who ran a shadow foreign policy campaign in Ukraine to smear Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden. At one point, the report uses some rather dry and legalistic language to call out Solomon’s dishonesty about his ties to Giuliani, Parnas, diGenova, and Toensing:

Solomon has said the notion of Giuliani being a principal source for his Ukraine columns is a “bogus narrative.” In November 2019, Solomon said Giuliani was “never an on-the-record, off-the-record or on-background source for any of those stories.”

Since the publication of Solomon’s columns, Parnas delivered Ukraine-related communications to Congress that show repeated contact among Parnas, Giuliani, Solomon, and Victoria Toensing of the Washington law firm of diGenova & Toensing, among others.

Solomon need not worry too much about fallout from The Hill’s review, thanks to his new gig at Fox News. After all, the reporting earlier this month on the Fox News internal research document showed that his new employers were fully aware that he had “played an indispensable role in the collection and domestic publication of elements of this disinformation campaign.” But the network continued to run with his stories as part of its overall push to aid Trump throughout the impeachment process, and Solomon is still appearing there to this very day.

And hey, at least The Hill went to the trouble of investigating some of the disinformation they’d been peddling. Meanwhile, it’s been years and we’re still waiting on that promised review of Fox’s own lies about the Seth Rich case.

Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore

As Ukraine Purge Continues, Trump Fires Top Pentagon Official

Top Pentagon policy official John Rood, who spoke out against Trump’s Ukraine effort, was asked to step down from his position, continuing the purge of administration officials who were against Donald Trump’s Ukraine scheme, CNN reported Wednesday morning.

A copy of Rood’s resignation letter, obtained by CBS, made clear the request came from Trump.

“It is my understanding from Secretary Esper that you requested my resignation,” Rood wrote to Trump.

Rood, who served as the defense undersecretary for policy, spoke out against Trump’s plan to withhold military aid to Ukraine in order to force the country to announce an investigation of former Vice President Joe Biden.

Rood wrote in an email to Defense Secretary Mark Esper, hours after Trump’s infamous July 25 call with the Ukrainian president, “Placing a hold on security assistance at this time would jeopardize this unique window of opportunity and undermine our defense priorities with a key partner in the strategic competition with Russia,” according to CNN.

Rood is the latest member of the administration who Trump has ousted over the Ukraine scandal. Trump was impeached over the scheme, but Senate Republicans acquitted him — saying that, while Trump’s behavior was wrong, they felt Trump had learned his lesson and thus did not warrant removal from office.

However, immediately after his acquittal, Trump began purging officials who testified in the impeachment probe, including Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, and Gordon Sondland, the now-former United States ambassador to the European Union and a key figure in the Ukraine plot.

Rood, for his part, is expected to depart his position soon.

At the Pentagon, Rood worked on implementing the Trump administration’s efforts to counter aggression from Russia and China.

In his resignation letter, Rood wrote, “I leave with the utmost admiration for the outstanding team with which I worked at the Defense Department.”

Updated with additional information for John Rood’s resignation letter.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.