Just four days ago, Joe diGenova and Victoria Toensing were on Sean Hannity’s primetime show, speaking in ominous tones about how the Trumpian bogeyman, George Soros, had funded the drive to impeach the President.
On Sunday, the husband-and-wife legal team was the subject of a story from the network: Fox News Sunday anchor Chris Wallace reported, citing a “top” unnamed government source, that they’d been doing “off-the-books” opposition research on Joe Biden, alongside Rudy Giuliani.
“The only person in government who knows what they were doing is President Trump,” Wallace said.
It was just another week in the life of the power couple, who’ve become favorite talking heads of the President and fierce critics of Democrats’ investigations into his activities.
DiGenova and Toensing — the former U.S. attorney for Washington, D.C. and the former deputy assistant attorney general, respectively — first crafted their public images as commentators during the impeachment of former President Bill Clinton (though diGenova had made a name for himself years earlier as the top federal prosecutor in D.C. during the investigation of Mayor Marion Barry).
As Howard Kurtz (now at Fox News, then at the Washington Post) wrote in February 1998, they’d been “quoted or on the tube more than 300 times in the month since the story broke.” A caption identified them as “sources, investigators, commentators.”
They are back at it. On Monday, Media Matters offered another staggering count: diGenova and Toensing have made over 90 appearances on Fox News and Fox Business Network in 2019.
The media hits clearly got the attention of Fox’s most prominent viewer. Back in March 2018, the pair were reported to be joining the President’s legal team. That never came to pass. But after years of swerving in and out of the public spotlight, the pair have picked up a number of other prominent clients in the Trump era.
At the time the couple was reported to be joining the Trump legal team, Toensing represented Blackwater founder Erik Prince, former campaign policy adviser Sam Clovis and, notably, former Trump legal team spokesperson Mark Corallo, who reportedly left that team over concerns that he’d witnessed obstruction of justice.
On Friday, the Kyiv Post reported another notable client: Dmitry Firtash, former business partner of Paul Manafort, who fled Ukraine after the 2014 revolution as Viktor Yanukovych’s government was swept out of power. Firtash is fighting extradition to the United States on bribery charges. DiGenova and Toensing’s firm didn’t immediately respond to TPM’s request to confirm their representation of Firtash.
Firtash’s case recently benefitted from an affidavit signed by none other than Viktor Shokin, the former Ukrainian prosecutor general whose ouster Trump allies have tried, unsuccessfully, to prove was an effort by Joe Biden to protect his son Hunter Biden.
A few days after news broke last year that they were joining Trump’s legal team, Trump lawyer Jay Sekulow announced that, in fact, “conflicts prevent Joe diGenova and Victoria Toensing from joining the president’s special counsel legal team.”
But, he added, “those conflicts do not prevent them from assisting the president in other legal matters. The President looks forward to working with them.”
Until now, it wasn’t clear what those “other legal matters” were, outside of fiery public denunciations of Trump’s enemies that the President eagerly retweeted.
A quick search through Twitter reveals multiple instances in which Trump quoted diGenova from the @realDonaldTrump account.
“The recusal of Jeff Sessions was an unforced betrayal of the President of the United States,” Trump quoted diGenova as saying in a May 30, 2018 tweet. “Hillary Clinton clearly got a pass by the FBI,” he wrote two weeks later.
Then, after that August 2018 tweet, silence: Trump tweeted no more quotes from the fiery lawyer, until… this month.
“Comey and McCabe (and more) are Dirty Cops,” Trump quoted diGenova as saying on Sept. 1. Another quote two weeks later: “We cannot have what happened to this President happen again […] it is time for Justice to come barreling in.”
Toensing, diGenova and Giuliani have all denied Fox News’ reporting that Giuliani had any help in his Ukrainian opposition research efforts — though diGenova did acknowledge in an interview on WBAL that he had spoken with Giuliani at one point about representing Ukrainian whistleblowers.
Nonetheless, the storylines appear to be somewhat connected: Just before Hannity interviewed diGenova and Toensing on Thursday about their views on the Ukraine story, Hannity had on another guest: John Solomon.
“Tonight, I’ve posted for the first time a sworn affidavit obtained by lawyers for a Ukrainian oligarch,” Solomon told Hannity on Thursday, referring to Firtash. Two minutes later, lawyers reportedly representing that same oligarch — diGenova and Toensing — appeared as Hannity’s next interviewees.
DiGenova praised Solomon, saying the “official records that are now available are going to really shoot a hole in [Democrats’] ship.”