Federal investigators executed a search warrant Wednesday on Rudy Giuliani’s New York City apartment, stepping up their investigation of his dealings in the Ukraine.
Giuliani’s electronic devices were seized in the raid, The New York Times reported, citing information from the investigators.
The investigation centers on whether Giuliani, who was Donald Trump’s personal attorney, lobbied the Trump administration in 2019 on behalf of Ukrainian officials and oligarchs – the same group of people who were helping Giuliani search for dirt on Joe Biden and his son Hunter, who sat on the board of Ukrainian gas company, during the 2020 election.
The move indicates the investigation of the former New York City mayor has entered an aggressive new phase.
To obtain the search warrant, investigators would need to convince a judge they had sufficient reason to believe that a crime was committed and the search would turn up evidence of that.
It does not mean an indication of guilt.
Federal investigators executed a search warrant Wednesday on Rudy Giuliani’s New York City apartment
Rudy Giuliani’s apartment building on the Upper East Side of Manhattan
The United States Attorney’s office in Manhattan and the FBI had wanted to execute the warrant on Giuliani’s Upper East Side pad for months but had been stymied by the political leadership put in place at the Justice Department by President Trump.
But after Merrick Garland was confirmed as President Biden’s attorney general, the Justice Department lifted its objection to the search.
Biden vowed to have an independent Justice Department and said he would not interfere in its work.
‘Here we go folks,’ tweeted Michael Cohen, Trump’s former attorney who was also subject of a federal raid.
The Giuliani investigation grew out of a federal investigation of his associates, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, who worked on gathering information about the Bidens during the election.
The two Soviet-born men were charged with federal campaign finance violations.
The two, who have pleaded not guilty, were arrested at an airport outside Washington carrying one-way tickets to Europe.
The Giuliani investigation grew out of a federal investigation of his associates, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, who worked on gathering information about the Bidens during the election and were charged with violating the ban on political donations by foreign nationals in October 2019
Investigators are also looking into Giuliani’s role in the ousting of US Ambassador to the Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, who was a prominent witness in Trump’s first impeachment trial
Prosecutors are also looking into Giuliani’s dealings with Ukraine’s then-top prosecutor, Yuriy Lutsenko, who was helping Giuliani in his dirt-digging mission
Investigators are also looking into Giuliani’s role in the ousting of US Ambassador to the Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, who was a prominent witness in Trump’s first impeachment trial.
As Giuliani was pushing Ukrainian officials to announce an investigation of the Bidens, he was pushed to have Yovanovitch removed, seeing her as an obstacle to his efforts.
At Giuliani’s urging, Trump had her recalled.
Prosecutors are examining whether Giuliani was working not only for Trump, but also for Ukrainian officials or businesses who wanted Yovanovitch dismissed for their own reasons, The Times reported.
Trump was impeached on two counts in his first trial after reports of a July 25 phone call in which Trump pressured Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate Joe and Hunter Biden and also a discredited conspiracy theory that Ukraine interfered in the 2016 US election.
Trump was acquitted by the Senate.
Under the Foreign Agents Registration Act, or FARA, it is a federal crime to try to influence or lobby the US government at the request or direction of a foreign official without disclosing it to the Justice Department.
The obscure act came to prominence during special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe.
Prosecutors are also looking into Giuliani’s dealings with Ukraine’s then-top prosecutor, Yuriy Lutsenko, who was helping Giuliani in his dirt-digging mission.
They have examined conversations Giuliani had about taking on hundreds of thousands of dollars in apparently unrelated consulting business from Lutsenko, which resulted in a draft retainer agreement that was never executed.
Giuliani denied anything ever came of his six-figure arrangements to do work for Ukrainian officials.
‘I thought that would be too complicated,’ he told the New York Times in 2019. ‘I never received a penny.’
‘Originally, I thought I would do it. And then when I thought it over,’ Giuliani told the paper. ‘I thought it would look bad.’
Giuliani has already cited contact with Lutsenko as he pursued a theory of Ukrainian election interference – which Trump wold later mention in a call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.