New York, NY – Federal agents executed a search warrant on former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani’s home and office on Wednesday in connection with an ongoing investigation concerning activities in Ukraine.
Sources told CNN that the search was the culmination of two years of investigative work into whether Giuliani conducted illegal lobbying of the Trump administration on behalf of Ukrainian officials while he was pursing an investigation into then-former Vice President Joe Biden’s connections in that country.
Investigators searched Giuliani’s Manhattan apartment and seized electronic devices, The New York Times reported.
It is uncommon for a judge to authorize a search warrant on an attorney but Giuliani is the second of former President Trump’s attorneys to get served with one.
Michael Cohen was the first, CNN reported.
Such an approval for the search of an attorney’s private residence would have required signoff from the highest levels of the current U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ).
Giuliani’s attorney, Robert Costello, told The New York Times the searches were unnecessary because his client had already offered to answer the government’s questions, except for those protected by client confidentiality.
“What they did today was legal thuggery,” Costello said. “Why would you do this to anyone, let alone someone who was the associate attorney general, United States attorney, the mayor of New York City, and the personal lawyer to the 45th president of the United States?”
The Manhattan U.S. Attorney’s Office and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) have been trying to get the search warrants for Giuliani’s phones for months, The New York Times reported.
Top DOJ officials blocked those warrants while President Trump was in office but objections were lifted after Merrick Garland became President Joe Biden’s attorney general.
The investigation into Giuliani’s activities in connection with Ukraine began after two men who allegedly assisted him in investigating President Biden and his son, Hunter Biden, were charged with unrelated crimes, The New York Times reported.
Prosecutors are examining what motivated Giuliani to focus on ousting now-former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie L. Yovanovitch.
Investigators have explored whether Giuliani might have also been working for Ukrainian officials who wanted to get rid of Yovanovitch when he was advising President Trump, The New York Times reported.
The Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) makes it a federal crime to attempt to influence or lobby the U.S. government at the request or direction of a foreign official if it hasn’t been disclosed to the DOJ.
Prosecutors have focused on conversations Giuliani allegedly had with Yuriy Lutsenko about potentially taking on hundreds of thousands of dollars in consulting business, The New York Times reported.
Prosecutors have said Lutsenko even drafted a consulting retainer agreement but it was never executed by the President’s attorney.
Giuliani has said he turned down the offer to consult with Ukraine on getting back missing money that its government believed had been stashed or stolen overseas, The New York Times reported.
Sources told The New York Times that federal prosecutors were ready to serve warrants last fall but top DOJ officials determined it was too close to the election.
DOJ has a long standing practice of not taking aggressive investigative action within 60 days of the election if it could affect the outcome.