On April 30, the Justice Department released additional records to American Oversight in response to our requests and litigation. This article has been updated.
As the criminal probe of Rudy Giuliani escalates this week, American Oversight has obtained new records related to our investigation of how the Justice Department under former Attorney General William Barr vetted information provided by Giuliani in the service of the former president’s political agenda.
On Wednesday, the FBI seized multiple devices in a search of Giuliani’s home and office. Giuliani, former President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, has been under federal investigation for his role in the Ukraine scandal that led to Trump’s first impeachment. Reporting indicates that at the center of the investigation into whether Giuliani broke lobbying laws are his efforts to oust the former ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch.
Giuliani’s pressure campaign to fire Yovanovitch in the spring of 2019 came as he and his associates — including lawyer Victoria Toensing, whose cellphone was also the subject of a search warrant this week — were looking to dig up dirt on Joe Biden, then a candidate for president, and on Biden’s son Hunter. According to the New York Times, federal prosecutors had sought search warrants for months, but were blocked by senior officials at the Justice Department under the former administration.
Trump’s first impeachment did not stop his allies from continuing their dubious search for damaging information on the president’s political rival. In February 2020, following Trump’s partisan acquittal in the Senate, then-Attorney General Barr confirmed an assertion made by Sen. Lindsey Graham that the Justice Department had created an “intake process” for assessing Giuliani-provided information. The Washington Post reported that the information was being routed through the office of the U.S. attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania, Scott Brady.
In December, American Oversight sued the Justice Department for records of communications or directives related to this arrangement, and this week obtained new emails from as early as January 2020 that potentially point to this troubling backchannel.
On Jan. 3, 2020, Seth DuCharme, then counselor to Barr, emailed Brady to ask him whether he had time “for a quick call today in re a possible discreet assignment from [the Office of the Attorney General] and [the Office of the Deputy Attorney General]?” Brady quickly replied that he was free.
On Feb. 9 — the day before Barr confirmed the separate “intake process” — Stephen Boyd, the assistant attorney general for legislative affairs, forwarded a reporter’s tweet about Graham’s comments to Kerri Kupec, who was then Barr’s spokesperson and who recently was announced to be joining Fox News. Shortly thereafter, Kupec sent an email to Barr (who was using an email alias) with a transcript of Graham’s remarks; Graham’s comments about such an intake process were among those highlighted.
The records also include an invitation for a meeting on March 10, 2020, in Barr’s office. The attendees included Brady and DuCharme, as well as Brian Rabbitt and Will Levi. (Levi had just replaced Rabbitt as Barr’s chief of staff, with Rabbitt assuming a senior role within the Justice Department’s criminal division.)
On Friday, the Justice Department released additional records to American Oversight in response to our requests and litigation. These records show Brady contacting DuCharme to arrange calls on Feb. 11 and on March 5, 2020. They also contain a Feb. 27 email from Stephen Kaufman, then first assistant to Brady, regarding a text from Giuliani’s attorney, Bob Costello. Kaufman is now the acting U.S. attorney in Pittsburgh.
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