OIS Cases FileGate-Exhibits-14
Number of Pages:7
Date Created:August 16, 1999
Date Uploaded to the Library:July 30, 2013
Autogenerated text from PDF
Get chill from the l.!''...2J!.....----------J The Power Couple Scandal's Vortex Howard Kurtz Washington Post Staff Writer Friday, Februa1y 27, 1998; Page Geraldo Rivera served the softball Sources, investigators, pitch: 11Joe, the seconds until the commercial break, are you another commentators: Lawyers Joseph diGenova and Victoria Toensing have become hot properties the victim the White House slander media since the Monica Lewinsky machine?" scandal broke. (By Michael Williamson -The Washington Post) Joe Genova didn1t discourage the notion that the Clintonites were targeting him for his televised criticism. declared that and his wife, Victoria Toensing, are 11going continue appear your show long you will have us.11 decade after was the city1s top federal prosecutor high-stakes pursuit ofD.C. Mayor Marion Barry, Genova has become white-hot media presence, politically connected lawyer and all-around agent provocateur. and Toensing, also battle-tested former prosecutor, keep popping wherever there trouble --as commentators, investigators, unnamed sources for reporters. classic Washington power couple, Genova, 53, and Toensing, 56, occupy strange, symbiotic nexus between the media and the law that boosts their stock both worlds. They are clearly players, which gives them access juicy information, which gets them television, which generates legal business. "Dozens Washington lawyers are trying get these shows, Genova says. think it's very healthy. can destroy myths and shoot down misunderstandings.11 Toensing sees televised debate good way sharpening the old legal skills. 11Its something that gets the body juices going, she says. The two law partners not only talk about the Monica Lewinsky investigation--they've been quoted the tube more than 300 times the month since the story broke --but have been drawn into the vortex. Toensing was approached intermediary for Secret Service agent who had supposedly seen something untoward involving President Clinton and the former intern. Genova was --1-----'r -- - r ""t""'' the heart quickly retracted Dallas Morning News account that matter. What's more, Genova took the airwaves Sunday charge --based nothing more than one reporter's inquiry --that private investigators "with links the White House" were digging "dirt" him and his wife. Never exactly press-shy when was U.S. attorney, Genova trifle sensitive the notion that partisan publicity hound. Ensconced burgundy armchair the living room his ranch-style home Bethesda's Kenwood section, glances stealthily blue card --the kind people use jot down their sound bites --before delivering his point. have never made single telephone call get television show, and neither has Victoria," says. "We've never had agent I've never been paid dime for any it." The couple (pronounced de-GEN-uva and TUN-sing) are firmly entrenched the media culture that member the Gridiron Club and she once had Rivera accompany them the club's annual dinner. love him and love his wife,11 the talk host and fellow lawyer says. "They're the most honorable people inside the Beltway .... He's strong, principled guy who doesn't back down. played any part making him media star, gloat with pleasure." Wide Net Name high-profile investigation this city and chances are the prosecutorial pair involved. Charges that Republican Rep. Dan Burton improperly demanded campaign contributions from lobbyist for Pakistan? DiGenova and Toensing are the Indiana congressman's personal attorneys. Newt Gingrich's ethics problems? Toensing represents the speaker's wife, Marianne, ensure her compliance with House ethics rules. House committee investigation the Teamsters and the union's links improper Democratic fund-raising? Genova and Toensing are leading the probe outside counsel. (And don't shortchange Toensing's role. When the newspaper Roll Call ran unflattering piece about conflict-of-interest charges related the couple's hiring, Toensing denounced the reporter sexist for leaving her out the first few paragraphs. "I'm just big is!" she shouted editor. Toensing says now that "they pretended didn't quite exist. They attributed client Joe. I've had deal with this all life woman.") of7 8/7/99 :22;1 The couple's Teamsters probe for the House Committee Education and the Workforce has made them lightning rod for Democratic criticism. First there was grumbling that their official role would conflict with their work for other clients, such the American Hospital Association, for whom they are registered lobbyists. Then the Democrats charged that Genova and Toensing couldn't doing much their $300,000-a-year contract --which requires each lawyer put hams month --since they spent much time television studios trashing President Clinton the Lewinsky case. Their television advocacy hardly state secret. former prosecutors, both diGenova and Toensing have largely defended the aggressive tactics independent counsel Kenneth Starr and repeatedly challenged the president's veracity. 1'They've become public spectacle, which means they can't impartial11 the Teamsters probe, says Missouri Rep. William Clay, the committee1s ranking Democrat. "It's payoff from Newt Gingrich and the Republican Party both Victoria Toensing and Joe diGenova .... They have been television over 200 times and not once have they been talking about issue we're paying them $25,000 month handle for the Congress. It1s hell part-time job." The committee's minority staff has even issued official tally comments and appearances the attorneys since late January (34 the Associated Press, CNBC's "Rivera Live,11 The Washington Post, the New York Post, the Montreal Gazette). DiGenova and Toensing laugh off the attacks, saying it's hardly shocking that Republican committees hire Republican lawyers, that former prosecutors appear television. smear tactic,11 says diGenova. They insist they have documented their work but can1t turn their time sheets because, says Toensing, 11they reveal witnesses that have protected.11 Perhaps recent incident has drawn much interest and speculation diGenova's role anonymous source for the Dallas Morning News. The melodrama began when Toensing was approached intermediary for Secret Service agent who was said willing testify that saw Clinton and Lewinsky compromising situation. DiGenova passed this Morning News reporter David Jackson ("Joe and exchanged few words over that,11 Toensing says), and the paper published the story its Internet edition, attributing the account unnamed lawyer "familiar with the negotiations.11 But then the intermediary had told Toensing the agent was backing off. Hours later, the Morning News retracted the rep01t, saying the "longtime Washington lawyer'' had said the information was 11inaccurate.11 The couple now say that Toensing, taking call from Jackson hours before deadline, told the reporter: 11If Joe your source, it's wrong." "The bottom line is, they were told not print and they chose print," Genova says. don't know how much more helpful you can newspaper than tell them not print.11 Carl Leubsdorf, the paper's Washington bureau chief, says: 11The reporter's recollection that conversation quite different. was told that 'if Joe told you that, shouldn't have.' had been the other way, the story course would have been reassessed that point.11 The couple seem have been the periphery the Monica Lewinsky case from the start. go-between initially approached Toensing about representing Linda Tripp, the former Pentagon staffer who secretly taped Lewinsky. Toensing declined because the couple already had one high-profile case the Teamsters probe. But the Tripp feeler, too, became point contention. When Toensing appeared Charles Grodin's CNBC talk show, Richard Ben-Veniste, Democratic lawyer and former Watergate prosecutor, asked when she first learned about Tripp and her tapes. Toensing said she was not liberty divulge that. After the program, she told Ben-Veniste the feeler from Tripp. The next day, Toensing got several calls from reporters about her on-air remarks after they had been tipped the possible controversy. She saw Democratic plot. decided offense, was mad, she says. NBC's "Today" the next morning, Toensing assailed what she called "the anatomy lie.. That's how works here, folks. ain't pretty .... They put out just enough kernel truth and then spin it, because what they want make look like all Republicans got together after the president." Says Ben-Veniste: "I'm not Democratic spin-meister. didn't even know she was going the show. feel put upon here. The only reason turned her that she had inte1Tupted twice." But that little dust-up paled compared with diGenova's performance Sunday "Meet the Press." "Last week," Genova declared, wielding blue card, got telephone call from correspondent for national weekly telling that word had gotten around town that and wife, Victoria Toensing, were being investigated private investigator with links the White House and the attorneys representing the president, and that investigator was either someone named Mr. Palladino or, perhaps, even from --I've read Time magazine --Mr. Terry Lenzner .... Who paying Mr. Palladino Mr. Lenzner, and who getting the dirt that they are digging up? the White House getting this stuff, are their lawyers?11 Genova later acknowledged had confirmation any private-eye activity before making the charge national television. White House spokesman Mike Mccurry called diGenova's remarks 11outrageous.11 Martin Garbus, First Amendment lawyer, criticized Genova his favorite forum, 11RiVera LiVe.11 111 just thought WaS hTeSpOUSible, Garbus says interview. "He's far too sophisticated lawyer for that. thought there must some other motive involved, like self-promotion." Friends have different take. "Joe's understandably indignant reaction was driven concern about his wife, says Charles Leeper, former prosecutor who worked for diGenova. "He does have thick skin. this was just about gathering information him, would have laughed about it. But when you're told someone trying silence you gathering information about your spouse, you react differently." course even paranoids have enemies. The White House flatly denied that diGenova and Toensing were the subject any inquiry. But two days later, Clinton lawyers David Kendall and Robert Bennett acknowledged that they had retained Lenzner's investigative firm. carefully worded statement, they said: "There public information available, which, course, our duty counsel research and gather; but have not investigated, and are not investigating, the personal lives Ms. Toensing [or] Mr. diGenova." Does that mean there shadowy probe the couple --that, Rivera put it, they might some Clintonian "enemies list"? "All know what we've been told reporters," Toensing says. But she questions the nature the "public inf01mation" the private eyes are gathering: got divorced. Are they going back into divorce records?" Says diGenova: "I'm not worried. All they'll find that like cook, wife and are madly love with each other and both smoke cigars.11 Private Lives They launched their small law firm two years ago and seem reveling their rapid success. One ofToensing's tluee children from her first marriage, Brady, senior associate. The couple retreat weekends their Fenwick Island, Del., beach house, hanging with such pals Robert Novak and Bill Regardie. town, Genova likes plant himself his massive Wolf commercial stove, open bottle wine and cook veal chops one the cast-iron pans hanging from the ceiling. there downside being married your law partner? Toensing says she tends carry about their cases during evenings and weekends. "He had teach shut up,11 she says. Both pride themselves being moderate Republicans who occasionally contribute Democratic candidates. They met rally for the Equal Rights Amendment the 1980 Republican National Convention; bought all the elephant pins she was selling. Genova, trained opera singer, proposed the second date. Toensing, who raised three kids her own after law school, said yes. DiGenova was top aide then-Sen. Charles Mathias Maryland. helped his bride get job with Senate intelligence committee investigator Fred Thompson. Soon the couple were rising stars the Reagan administration: was tapped U.S. attorney, she became deputy assistant attorney general. They worked tenorism cases together. DiGenova loved the limelight, and while there was some grumbling that was grabbing credit for cases developed his assistants, racked impressive record. Digging into city corruption, diGenova's office won convictions D.C. officials, including two deputy mayors. But his biggest case far was his four-year drug investigation Marion Barry. It's surprise hear diGenova defend Ken Starr against White House allegations illegal leaks, for Genova was accused the same thing. Barry, claiming was being 11lynched,11 sued diGenova and the Justice Department charges disclosing secret grand jury information; the suit was dismissed for lack evidence. Genova stepped down 1988 enter private practice; his successor, Jay Stephens, prosecuted Barry. was eventually vindicated when the mayor was caught the Vista Hotel and convicted drug use," Genova says. Toensing, meanwhile, was shrinking violet either. She posed for the cover the New York Times Magazine for story recounting her pursuit Palestinian terrorist: "Today, because Victoria Toensing, Mohammed Rashid sits Athens's Korydallos Prison awaiting trial.11 The two moved couple Washington law fim1s. DiGenova served independent counsel, finding wrongdoing Bush administration officials accused pilfering Bill Clinton's passport files. When the 0.J. Simpson case made telegenic lawyers hot commodity, Toensing became fixture Rivera's show and others, and her husband followed suit. Genova says they make most their appearances night, ferried chauffeured cars. Even returning reporters' calls doesn't detract from their practice. "You've got out your mind not helpful people the press," says. Besides, the talk circuit pays tangible dividends. "You get business from it,11 diGenova says. "In addition, your existing clients like it. They like seeing their lawyers commenting intelligently TV. get calls: Saw you 'This Week,' 'Face the Nation,' thought you did greatjob.11 Toensing less sanguine about the calls generated her appearances: "You get more kooks than you get reasonable people.11 Others will "call office and ask who does hair." These days, any channel, they can usually counted defend Starr. Indeed, producers want them for their prosecutorial point view. "White-collar criminal investigations are not beanbag,11 diGenova says. "It does get rough." And this couple who know how punch back. DiGenova says they don't mind few scars. "This political town," says. "People are going take shots you. you can't take that, you shouldn't the business."