Rudy Giuliani, the personal attorney of President Donald Trump, successfully sought out a U.S. fugitive named Dmitry Firtash — a Ukrainian oligarch with reported ties to Vladimir Putin and Russian organized crime — in an effort to obtain compromising information on former Vice President Joe Biden, according to The New York Times.
In exchange for the dirt, Giuliani would work to get Firtash off the hook with the U.S. Justice Department, which seeks his extradition to face bribery and racketeering charges.
The Times conducted interviews with Firtash, another Ukrainian oligarch named Ihor Kolomoisky, and several other individuals in the know about Giuliani’s Ukraine dealings, the newspaper said — and those interviews “depict a strategy clearly aimed at leveraging information from politically powerful but legally vulnerable foreign citizens.”
Firtash told The Times that Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, two of Giuliani’s associates, offered him a deal earlier this year: if the oligarch “hired two lawyers who were close to President Trump and were already working with Mr. Giuliani on his dirt-digging mission,” Giuliani and his associates would help Firtash with his Justice Department problem.
Parnas subsequently confirmed Firtash’s account through his attorney, Joseph Bondy, who also said that his client met with the oligarch at “Giuliani’s direction and encouraged the oligarch to help in the hunt for compromising information ‘as part of any potential resolution to his extradition matter.’”
Firtash hired the two attorneys suggested to him — Victoria Toensing and Joseph diGenova — but told The Times that he had no information on Biden to offer Giuliani and said, “Without my will and desire, I was sucked into this internal U.S. fight.”
In turn, Toensing and diGenova followed through on their end of the deal, meeting with Attorney General William Barr in late August to plead Firtash’s case; however, their efforts were unsuccessful.
Giuliani acknowledged that he sought information that might benefit Trump from Firtash’s original legal team but found nothing of value. He also said in his interview with The Times that there was nothing wrong with approaching oligarchs for information on the Bidens: “Where do you think you get information about crime?”
But Giuliani said he “did not tell Parnas to do anything with Firtash.”
Parnas’ attorney disputed that assertion, telling the newspaper that everything his client did was at Giuliani’s direction.
“Mr. Parnas reasonably believed Giuliani’s directions reflected the interests and wishes of the president, given Parnas having witnessed and in several instances overheard Mr. Giuliani speaking with the president,” the lawyer said. Bondy added that Parnas “is remorseful for involving himself and Mr. Firtash in the president’s self-interested political plot.”