Federal Authorities Attack Giuliani’s Home and Office, Escalating Criminal Investigation | Chicago News


In this November 19, 2020 file photo, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who was an attorney for President Donald Trump, speaks at a press conference at the Republican National Committee headquarters in Washington. (AP Photo / Jacquelyn Martin, file)

NEW YORK (AP) – Federal agents raided Rudy Giuliani’s Manhattan home and office on Wednesday, seizing computers and cellphones in a major escalation in the Justice Department’s investigation into the business relationship of former President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer.

Giuliani, the 76-year-old former New York mayor, once celebrated for his leadership after 9/11, has been under federal control for several years over his ties to Ukraine. The double searches sent the strongest signal yet that he could possibly face federal charges.

Officers searched Giuliani’s Madison Avenue apartment and Park Avenue office, people familiar with the investigation told The Associated Press. The warrants, which required approval from the highest levels of the Justice Department, mean prosecutors believe they have probable cause Giuliani has committed a federal crime – although they do not guarantee the charges will materialize.

A third search warrant has been served on a phone belonging to Washington lawyer Victoria Toensing, a former federal prosecutor and close ally of Giuliani and Trump. Her law firm released a statement saying she was told she was not the target of the investigation.

The full scope of the investigation is unclear, but it at least partially involves Giuliani’s connections in Ukraine, PA law enforcement officials said.

People who were discussing Wednesday’s research and developments could not do so publicly and spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity. News of the research was first reported by The New York Times.

In a statement released through his lawyer, Giuliani accused federal authorities of a “corrupt double standard,” citing allegations he had made against prominent Democrats, and said the Justice Department “was threatening at all costs the constitutional rights of anyone involved or legally defending former President Donald J. Trump.

“Mr. Giuliani respects the law and he can demonstrate that his conduct as a lawyer and citizen was absolutely legal and ethical,” the statement said.

Trump told Fox Business on Thursday that Giuliani was “the greatest mayor in New York history” and “a great patriot.”

“It’s very, very unfair,” he said of what happened on Wednesday. “Rudy loves this country so much, it’s so terrible to see things happening in our country with corruption and problems and then they go after Rudy Giuliani.”

White House press secretary Jen Psaki told CNN on Thursday that the White House had not been notified that the raid was coming. The Department of Justice, she said, “is now independent. They will make their own decisions, take their own actions. This is how the president wants it.

Bernie Kerik, who served as New York City Police Commissioner during the 9/11 attacks and is a longtime friend of Giuliani, said the former mayor called him as officers searched his home on Wednesday morning. Kerik, who was pardoned by Trump on felony convictions that put him behind bars for three years, declined to describe his friend’s mood or reaction but expressed concern over the raid, saying that the agents “shouldn’t have been there in the first place.

“I think this is extremely worrying,” he said.

Giuliani’s son Andrew Giuliani told reporters the raids were “disgusting” and “absolutely absurd”.

A spokesperson for the Department of Justice did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The US attorney’s office in Manhattan and the FBI’s New York office declined to comment.

The federal investigation into Giuliani’s dealings with Ukraine was blocked last year due to a dispute over investigative tactics, with Trump unsuccessfully attempting a second term. Giuliani then took a leading role in challenging the election results on behalf of the Republican.

Wednesday’s raids came months after Trump stepped down and lost his ability to forgive his allies for federal crimes. The former president himself no longer enjoys the legal protections the Oval Office once provided him – although there is no indication that Trump is being watched in this investigation.

Trump’s spokesperson did not immediately respond to questions about Wednesday’s events.

Many people in Trump’s orbit have been trapped in previous federal investigations, including Special Advocate Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian election interference. Some, like former General Michael Flynn, Roger Stone and Paul Manafort, have been pardoned. Although there had been discussions about a preventive pardon for Giuliani, it did not materialize.

Giuliani was at the heart of the then president’s efforts to dig up the dirt against his Democratic rival Joe Biden and to pressure Ukraine for an investigation into Biden and his son, Hunter, himself facing a criminal tax investigation by the Ministry of Justice.

Giuliani also sought to undermine former US Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, who was kicked out on Trump’s orders, and has repeatedly met with a Ukrainian lawmaker who released edited tapes of Biden in an attempt to smear him before the elections.

Giuliani’s attorney, Robert Costello, said the warrants involved an allegation that Giuliani had not registered as a foreign agent and that the investigative documents mentioned John Solomon, a former columnist and frequent commentator on Fox News with close ties to Giuliani, who pushed baseless or unfounded allegations involving Ukraine and Biden in the 2020 election.

Telephone records released by House Democrats in 2019 following Trump’s first impeachment trial showed frequent contact involving Giuliani, Solomon and Lev Parnas, an associate of Giuliani who is indicted for using foreign money to make illegal contributions to the campaign.

Contacted on Wednesday, Solomon said it was news to him that the Justice Department was interested in any communication he had with Giuliani, although he said that was not entirely surprising considering given the issues raised in the impeachment trial.

“It was someone who tried to convey information to me. I haven’t used most of it, ”Solomon said of Giuliani. “If they want to watch this, there will be nothing surprising about it.”

Everything sat “in plain sight,” Solomon said. He said he believed his reporting had “stood the test of time” and claimed he “was not aware of a single factual error” in any of his stories.

Solomon’s former employer, The Hill newspaper, published a review of some of his columns last year and determined they lacked context and lacked key information. Solomon previously worked for the Associated Press, leaving the news organization in 2006.

The Federal Foreign Agent Registration Act requires people who lobby on behalf of a government or foreign entity to register with the Department of Justice. The once obscure law, which aimed to improve transparency, has received an explosion of attention in recent years – especially during Mueller’s investigation, which revealed a range of foreign influence operations in the United States.

Federal prosecutors in the Manhattan office that Giuliani himself once led – which won in the 1980s with high-level prosecutions against Mafia figures – lobbied last year for a warrant. search for archives. These included some of Giuliani’s communications, but Trump-era Justice Department officials did not approve the request, according to several people who insisted on anonymity to talk about the ongoing investigation with which they were familiar with.

Officials from the then Deputy Attorney General’s office expressed concern about the scope of the request, which they said would contain communications that could be covered by the legal privilege between Giuliani and Trump, and the method of ‘obtaining the records, said three people. .

The Department of Justice expected the matter to be revisited by the Department of Justice once Attorney General Merrick Garland took office, given the need for higher echelons of the department to sign warrants served on lawyers. Garland was confirmed last month, and Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco was confirmed in her post and sworn in last week.

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