Appearing on ABC’s “This Week” in September, Rudy Giuliani waved a filing from the case of a Ukrainian oligarch, Dmitry Firtash, facing extradition to the United States. The document, the President’s lawyer said, supported his claims about Joe and Hunter Biden’s corrupt dealings in Ukraine.
Now, Firtash is saying he was unwillingly sucked into an American political firestorm.
“Without my will and desire, I was sucked into this internal U.S. fight,” Dmitry Firtash told the the New York Times, adding: “I do not have any information, I did not collect any information, I didn’t finance anyone who would collect that information, and it would be a big mistake from my side if I decided to be involved in such a fight.”
Firtash told the Times that he had not authorized the sealed filing’s release, and that he hoped his lawyers hadn’t, either.
But months earlier, in July, the oligarch had hired two attorneys who were also helping Giuliani look for dirt on Joe Biden and others in Ukraine, and who in turn hired the now-indicted Giuliani associate Lev Parnas as a translator for the legal team.
Soon enough, Giuliani was describing records from the Firtash case on cable news, after someone with access to the documents began providing them to the right-wing writer John Solomon to publish in The Hill.
The filings were part of a broader, ongoing legal dispute between the U.S. and the oligarch. Firtash was arrested in Austria in 2014 on charges brought by prosecutors in Chicago, accused of bribing officials in India for mining rights. He’s been stuck in the country for years, fighting a protracted legal battle against extradition to the United States.
A lawyer for Parnas told the Times that Giuliani instructed Parnas to approach Firtash in June 2019. Parnas suggested the oligarch hire two Republican lawyers, Joe diGenova and Victoria Toensing, both former federal prosecutors and frequent Fox News talking heads who were close to Trump.
The lawyers also represent Solomon, who began airing information from Firtash’s case after the husband and wife pair started representing the oligarch.
“They said, ‘We may help you, we are offering to you good lawyers in D.C. who might represent you and deliver this message to the U.S. DOJ,” Firtash told the Times, recalling the message he received in a June meeting from Parnas and his also-indicted business partner Igor Fruman.
Parnas’ lawyer, Joseph A. Bondy, told the Times that Parnas had also encouraged Firtash to help Giuliani find dirt “as part of any potential resolution to his extradition matter.”
Parnas, Bondy said, “informed Mr. Firtash that Toensing and diGenova were interested in collecting information on the Bidens.”
DiGenova and Toensing successfully obtained a meeting with Attorney General Bill Barr to argue that Firtash’s case should be dropped, but it’s not clear whether they got anything else. Barr told the lawyers to “go back to Chicago,” where Firtash’s indictment was filed and deal with the prosecutors there, Firtash told The Times.
So far Firtash has paid diGenova and Toensing $1.2 million for their work, he told the Times, including a fee for Parnas. Bloomberg previously reported a similar figure. An unnamed person with direct knowledge of the arrangement told the Times that Parnas’ share was $200,000.