Jeffrey Rosen Separated the Investigation that Could Turn Rudy Into a Russian Agent from the Rudy Investigation

When Scott Stedman first reported that the FBI investigation into matters relating to Rudy Giuliani had expanded to include sanctioned Russian agent Andreii Derkach, he suggested it was tied to the SDNY seizure, just days earlier, of Rudy’s phones.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) probe of Donald Trump’s personal lawyer Rudolph Giuliani has expanded to include Russia’s spy activities in the 2020 U.S. election, multiple sources tell Forensic News.

The criminal investigation, which led to a dramatic raid of Giuliani’s home and office this week, has for months included the activities of those who worked for or with Russian intelligence agent Andriy Derkach.

Derkach is a Ukrainian Member of Parliament who has been an “active Russian agent for over a decade,” according to the U.S. government.

Kenneth McCallion, an attorney who has represented multiple Ukrainian clients, said that prosecutors have been looking into the actions of Derkach in the 2020 election cycle as part of the Giuliani probe.

“I have been briefed that prosecutors are scrutinizing Derkach as part of the Giuliani probe,” McCallion told Forensic News. The inclusion of Derkach in the FBI’s probe suggests that the potential charges facing Giuliani might extend beyond just Foreign Agent Registration Act violations.

But the NYT last night reported (without crediting Stedman for the earlier report) that, instead, the Derkach part of the investigation is in EDNY, not SDNY, and in that investigation, Rudy is not a subject.

Federal prosecutors in Brooklyn have been investigating whether several Ukrainian officials helped orchestrate a wide-ranging plan to meddle in the 2020 presidential campaign, including using Rudolph W. Giuliani to spread their misleading claims about President Biden and tilt the election in Donald J. Trump’s favor, according to people with knowledge of the matter.


The investigation is unfolding separately from a long-running federal inquiry in Manhattan that is aimed at Mr. Giuliani. While the two investigations have a similar cast of characters and overlap in some ways, Mr. Giuliani is not a subject of the Brooklyn investigation, the people said.

Instead, the Brooklyn prosecutors, along with the F.B.I., are focused on current and former Ukrainian officials suspected of trying to influence the election by spreading unsubstantiated claims of corruption about Mr. Biden through a number of channels, including Mr. Giuliani, Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer at the time. It is unclear whether the Brooklyn prosecutors will ultimately charge any of the Ukrainians.

At one point in the investigation, the authorities examined a trip Mr. Giuliani took to Europe in December 2019, when he met with several Ukrainians, according to the people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss an ongoing inquiry.

At least one of the current and former officials Mr. Giuliani met, a Ukrainian member of parliament named Andriy Derkach, is now a focus of the Brooklyn investigation, the people said. [my emphasis]

In a remarkably stupid comment, the NYT suggests that two investigations started under Trump pose a political problem for Merrick Garland (misstating, at the same time, what Garland promised).

Together, the Manhattan and Brooklyn investigations present a challenge for the Biden Justice Department, which has pledged to remain above the political fray even as it inherited a number of sensitive investigations linked to Ukraine and Russia.

The comment is especially stupid given the public record that suggests the most likely explanation for the two separate investigations is that Jeffrey Rosen took steps after Rudy became the focus of investigative attention in SDNY, to ensure that EDNY could stave off the most dangerous parts of the investigation.

I have pointed out repeatedly that had the Zelenskyy call whistleblower tip been treated like all other national security related tips in the post-9/11 world, investigators would have discovered that it pertained to an already open investigation in SDNY into Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, an investigation that both Billy Barr and Jeffrey Rosen knew about. It appears that didn’t happen at first because the complaint was viewed exclusively as the transcript of President Trump’s call, and not the backup that tied the call to the influence peddling involving Rudy, Parnas, and Fruman that had been going on for some time.

But, probably with the public release of the whistleblower complaint, SDNY began to investigate how Rudy picked up the effort that Parnas and Fruman had already started in 2018, to get Marie Yovanovitch fired.

On November 4, 2019, SDNY executed searches — searches that Main Justice would have had to be informed about — on Rudy and Victoria Toensing’s cloud accounts. In subsequent months, SDNY would execute searches on Yuri Lutsenko and several other Ukrainians, but not Andrii Derkach, not even after Rudy flew to Ukraine to meet with Derkach personally on December 5, 2019.

In the wake of those searches, on January 17, 2020, Jeffrey Rosen issued a memo putting his trusted deputy, Richard Donoghue, in charge of all Ukraine-related investigations.

As has been publicly reported, there currently are several distinct open investigations being handled by different U.S. Attorney’s Offices and/or Department components that in some way potentially relate to Ukraine. In addition, new information potentially relating to Ukraine may be brought to the attention of the Department going forward. The Department has assigned Richard Donoghue, the U.S. Attorney in the Eastern District of New York (EDNY), who currently is handling certain Ukraine-related matters, to coordinate existing matters and to assess, investigate, and address any other matters relating to Ukraine, including the opening of any new investigations or the expansion of existing ones.


Any and all new matters relating to Ukraine shall be directed exclusively to EDNY for investigation and appropriate handling.


Any widening or expansion of existing matters shall require prior consultation with and approval by my office and EDNY.

Now that we know about the Rudy search in November 2019, the effect of this memo is clear: it limited the SDNY investigation to the scope of the investigation as it existed at that time, into the Lutsenko attempt to fire Yovanovitch (which was included in the original Parnas indictment), but not Rudy’s meeting with a Russian agent to help Trump win re-election.

Instead, EDNY presided over all the Ukraine goings-on during the election, during which time they could have done something about ongoing tampering. Indeed, after Geoffrey Berman succeeded in ensuring that Audrey Strauss would replace him after Barr fired him to try to shut down ongoing investigations (including, undoubtedly, the one into Rudy and Barr’s friend Victoria Toensing), Barr and Rosen replaced Donoghue with another trusted flunky, Seth DuCharme. Under DuCharme, then, EDNY sat and watched while Derkach interfered in the election and did nothing until — per yesterday’s NYT story — “the final months of the Trump administration.” According to the public timeline, it appears that they just let a known Russian agent play around in our democracy.

There is plenty of risk for Rudy in the existing SDNY investigation. But what Rudy did in response to Lutsenko’s entreaties amounts to lobbying, and so is probably most likely be charged as a FARA case (though Foreign Agent charges are on the table).

With Derkach, however, Rudy was affirmatively attempting to launder Russian-backed disinformation to affect the election. There’s no way that can be charged as lobbying. Plus, the government understood Derkach to be a Russian agent when Rudy attended that meeting (though Rudy claims he was not warned in advance). If Derkach were part of the SDNY investigation, in which Rudy is a subject, then treating Rudy as the Russian agent he has served as in recent years would be on the table.

But in EDNY, per the NYT report, Rudy’s conduct is not at issue.

25 replies
  1. Zirc says:

    I don’t get it. Even if career folks like Rosen and his underlings were in thrall to Trump, were they also in thrall to Putin? This willful hands-off approach to Russian intelligence schemes suggests they were either ok with Russian operations or thought they could limit these operations merely to interference with the presidential election. But once you let these guys in your doors, it’s difficult to get rid of them. This seems like a very dangerous game.


    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Being fired, humiliated in public at great length, and having your career in government irretrievably trashed is the sort of thing that can ruin your focus and concentration. It’s also Trump’s favorite thing, after eating, preening, doing nothing, and watching tv.

    • BobCon says:

      I think that’s the malignant value of Barr — he is a wrangler in a way that someone like Sessions was not. Barr had control over neutral process that could move careerists part of the way, and the ideological heft to override any concerns of ideologues about ends being worth the means.

    • Rayne says:

      Assume theoretically there are more than just Team Putin at work both interfering with US elections and covering up the tracks. Would that shed a different light on this situation? I’m not saying there’s any specific additional team, but opening the door to possibility additional parties hostile to what has been US policy have been involved in some machinations we’ve observed.

      And “very dangerous” is putting it mildly. We’ve lost more than half a million Americans because we “let these guys in” including their orange hellbeast.

      • Rugger9 says:

        I think we already know the answer to that question, given how compromised the GQP leadership is by Putin. The trip to kiss Putin’s ring headlined by RoJo was probably demanded as a reminder that the Russians also helped in 2016 including several significant GOP names (like then-Rep. DeSantis).

        This arse-covering is to protect the GQP.

        As for additional players, there would be others involved, and I would not be surprised to see that the pro-Russia Ukrainians, Azerbaijanis and some of the Gulf states were involved as well. I’d follow the Jared connections.

      • rip says:

        This sounds like more than just a rhetorical question.

        As to potential specifics for alternatives to the putin-centric influencers include:
        – Religious orgs such as Opus Dei, Zionists, xian evangelicals
        – Media moguls/mongrels such as Murdoch/fox
        – Anti-science/govt like the anti-vaxxers

        I think always following the money works for everyone. They all love the glitter and power. Most of them have websites that ask for donations.

      • Leoghann says:

        Of course there are other teams working toward those nefarious goals. A look at the politics of Ukraine alone shows two or three loosely organized (sometimes unorganized, because very selfish people don’t play well with others) groups who all had the (at least secondary) goal of diminishing American power and dissuading the ethical in political positions from cooperating with the US government.

        For the decade until the election of Zelensky, Ukraine has had a succession of leaders who were allies of Russia. Some were oligarchs, and some were simply very corrupt politicians. They didn’t all share the same beliefs about the direction of Ukraine–some were cynical grifters, while others were Putin puppets. But they were all proponents of reducing American influence and increasing that of Russia, and all had a vested interest in the political destabilization of the US.

  2. BobCon says:


    “In a remarkably stupid comment, the NYT suggests that two investigations started under Trump pose a political problem for Merrick Garland (misstating, at the same time, what Garland promised).”

    NYT: “Together, the Manhattan and Brooklyn investigations present
    a challenge for the Biden Justice Department, which has pledged to
    remain above the political fray even as it inherited a number of sensitive
    investigations linked to Ukraine and Russia.”

    “The comment is especially stupid given the public record that suggests the most likely explanation for the two separate investigations is that Jeffrey Rosen took steps after Rudy became the focus of investigative attention in SDNY, to ensure that EDNY could stave off the most dangerous parts of the investigation.”

    Ken Vogel’s presence on the byline could explain the stupidity. Not only is he stupid, his articles are larded with this kind of facile editorializing posing as reporting. He’s grossly fond of vague insinuations along the lines of “questions raised” that manage to strip out meaningful context and perspective. Vogel is a go-to guy at the Times when a source on the right wants to push a narrative into the paper — he was obviously in Giuliani’s pocket as the Ukraine whistleblower emerged in 2019.

    What may be more ominous than simply Vogel is the sleazy attempt by the Times to portray this as a scoop, when Stedman easily scooped them. That points to a level of editorial level engagement that is more than simply a single bad reporter. The fact Vogel remains on the Ukraine beat after his transparent bias and failure to report truthfully in 2019 suggests someone at a higher level at the Times is a shield and patron for him. That points to a broader agenda and level of access for right wing bad actors that points to a lot of rot — it’s entirely possible, of course, that Vogel didn’t write that particular bit of editorializing, and it’s stemming from a level above him. The Times’ political coverage is horrible, and the recent departure by top editor Patrick Healy to the Opinion page doesn’t seem to be helping.

      • BobCon says:

        His tweeting *after* the whistleblower came forward was astounding — claiming that a massive story on Biden was about to be revealed when it was obvious that it was all falling apart shows Vogel was in the tank.

        The Times learned nothing from Judith Miller. It’s fine for good reporters to talk to bad people, but his editors have to know about how implicated he is with Guiliani and Rudy’s handlers. He’s gone past the point of simply doing due diligence and looking for leads — he’s gone into John Solomon territory.

        • Rayne says:

          He was neck-and-neck with Solomon all along. What I want to know is how long he’s been in the operation. Has his entire history been questionable?

    • Timmer says:

      You folks are strengthening or enhancing my biases when it comes to trying to understand facts/truth. Who and what publications are worthy of our trust? I fear I am thinking too often about conspiracies.
      Thank you for your attention to these details!

      • Alan Charbonneau says:

        After four years of Trump, conspiracy thinking is easy to fall into. Most things that were preposterous before Trump, are increasingly believable.

        When I read on Twitter that Rudy was holding a press conference at Four Seasons Total Landscaping, I thought it was a prank, something along the lines of a child giggling at “made you look!”.

        I Googled this, in my mind, to debunk what I thought was an attempt humor by some Twitter troll. Then it turned out to be true and, once again, I felt like Trump had shot me into The Twilight Zone. An attorney for the President of the United States is holding a press conference in a landscaping business parking lot? It was surreal even for Trump.

        After years of unbelievable idiocy, most conspiracies now sound plausible or even likely. So yeah, thanks to EW and the community for helping ground us in reality.

        • FL Resister says:

          As horrible as why Rudy went to Four Seasons (Total Landscaping) to blather on about Trump, the video and comments about that historical event posted on Twitter, beginning with the announcement that the whatever Rudy was doing would not be at Four Seasons Hotel, caused me to laugh longer and better than anything has in years.

      • BobCon says:

        *Some* of what the NY Times publishes is very good — reporters from the investigative and New York desks took the leads from Mary Trump on Trump’s tax fraud and did a great job.

        But the political reporting, except for a few reporters like Astead Herndon, is rotten all of the way up the ladder to the editorial level.

        There are good reporters here and there at other outlets, but most of them also suffer from ingrained institutional biases, and the failure of the industry in general to rethink goals and methods that have barely changed in 50 years says a lot about why they’re such a mess.

        • Ginevra diBenci says:

          The Times’ Achilles heel has always been access; the political reporters (egged on recently by DC bureau and Baquet) stagger along (and often across) a blurred line. Most have talent and integrity, and I wouldn’t want to face the pressure they do even for the relative stardom. But then there’s Ken Vogel, who should have been taken off Ukraine long ago. The list of those seduced by Rudy into abetting Trumpism (like the FBI’s NY field office back in 2016) extends farther than we’ll ever know. It may seem ridiculous now, but American myths take a long time to yield to evidence.

  3. earlofhuntingdon says:

    How nauseating, but above the fray of journalism, for the NYT to conflate attending to the pyramid of troubles Trump has left in the wake of his dynasty’s passing with not “remaining above the fray.” The latter, after all, is an election promise, the keeping of which is contingent on events. Nor did such things much concern the Times when Trump was president.

    If being below the fray means that a president concentrates on policy and outcomes for average Americans over dismembering the Constitution, I’ll take it any day of the week and twice on Sunday. But a president who does that seems to scare the Times as much as the GOP.

    • BobCon says:

      It’s a sign that the infection of savvy still rages in the political beat.

      I am deeply worried that Patrick Healy moving from top politics editor to Deputy Editor at Opinion is a sign that he is getting his ticket punched to be a replacement for Dean Baquet. Baquet has not been a good editor, but Healy has been a disaster at Politics.

      His big splash at Opinion has been a credulous piece giving Frank Luntz space to spin what GOP voters supposedly think. That’s a terrible sign of how Healy will be approaching the job.

      Bill Keller made the jump from Opinion to Executive Editor, so the Times clearly has no firewall between the two sides at top levels. I’d hate to see that happen.

  4. sls642 says:

    If DoJ hasn’t figured this out by now, this article should do it. The question is, how do they unwind this mess? Same with the ABJ fiasco Garland has stepped in. We have a lot of people now at DoJ with impressive resumes but my experience for many years has been, so what? Look at what people have actually accomplished. And how aggressive and smart they work. So far, haven’t seen much from DoJ which is not a good sign. Should have been moving in one direction by now.

    And career govt people who are sell outs is not that unusual. Worked at very high levels of state government for many years and saw far too many “career” people who were afraid of their shadow or wanted to go along with who they thought would be the winner. Compare to the “career ” attorneys involved in the Trump/Barr mess who chose to resign rather than work for Barr. Those are the kind of people Biden needs. People who are smart, ethical and fearless. The ones that aren’t, need to be isolated.

    As for the NYT, I quit reading it a long time ago. It’s just gotten worse and is an embarrassment. The WaPo is another story entirely. Bezos has spent a fortune bringing it back to where it once was and it shows. I was skeptical when he bought the paper but I was wrong. No one has done more to expose Trump than the WaPo and that is thanks to Bezos. He is the polar opposite of Murdoch and came along just in time.

    There are blogs like this one that do a great job as well. But in MSM world, first rate investigative, complicated, time consuming reporting has been vanishing for years. Bezos (for whatever reason) surprisingly came along and has been admirable . Trump’s hates him more than anyone I can think of. And with damn good reasons. If I were Trump, I would despise him too. We need more like him.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      The enemy of your enemy is not always your friend. The world needs vastly less of Jeff Bezos, in every imaginable way. His WaPo – which amounts to a pimple on his backside – is in some ways only marginally better than the NYT, and in others, it’s worse.

      • Rayne says:

        I’ll agree to disagree with you. Can you think of a *journalist* working at WaPo during the last 4 years who has consistently reported in a fashion amounting to stenography for the GOP?

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Is this like a which is the worst movie list? Bad journalism probably extends beyond an individual reporter’s servile stenography, and includes the editors and owners who so value the work of a Judy Miller or Maggie Haberman. Aggregate coverage might be a useful measure.

        As for individual reporters at the WaPo, Ashley Parker comes to mind, but she’s also a NYT alum. The idea that driving a car at speed through a vaccine site is a “protest” – the alleged perp’s characterization, which headlines adopted – rather than attempted vehicular homicide is the kind of mischaracterization that plagues both the NYT and the WaPo. But I do agree with Dan Froomkin that “some folks at WaPo ‘still do stellar work.'”

        • FL Resister says:

          (From the link posted above)
          “(Sally) Buzbee’s (new newsroom editor at WAPO) most urgent and important challenge will be to establish clear, honest, and principled ways of covering a major political party that is increasingly devoted to subverting the electoral process, spreading disinformation, appealing to bigotry, and sabotaging effective governance.”

          Exactly. We all have to pitch in if this country is going to reverse direction. And MSM owes it to their readers to be straightforward, present truth to the discerning mind, and avoid attributing normal characteristics to outlandish right-wing behaviors..

  5. Max404 says:

    Vogel etc. are those nerds in the government department at (fill in the blank Ivy League college) who, while others of their age were getting their guts blown out in Nam or their heads bashed by cops at D.C. central cell block while being booked after a demo, wrote papers about policy process or other useless shit, and whose daddies pulled strings for a post graduation job. The important thing was proximity to levers of power. A gig at the Times for the slightly left of center. Very slightly.

  6. pdaly says:

    Now that Garland is the Attorney General is there an institutional or legal reason why case consolidation couldn’t happen? Move the EDNY investigation into the SDNY one and reassess and widen scope of investigation?

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