Investigation into Trump’s lawyer picks up after senior Justice Department officials approve search warrant.
Federal investigators executed a search warrant at the Manhattan home of former President Donald Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani on Wednesday, according to reports from the New York Times, Reuters and a law enforcement official cited by The Associated Press.
The former New York City mayor has been under investigation for several years over his business dealings in Ukraine. It comes as the Justice Department continues its investigation into the staunch Trump ally.
A lawyer for Giuliani, Bob Costello, confirmed to Reuters that a search warrant had been executed. Electronic devices were among the items seized, according to the Times.
The official could not discuss the investigation publicly and spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity.
The investigation “grew out of a case against two Soviet-born men”, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, “who aided his mission in Ukraine to unearth damaging information” on President Joe Biden and his son Hunter, the New York Times reported.
Fruman and Parnas were both indicted last year on charges of conspiracy and falsifying records.
Hunter, who faced criticism from alleged misconduct during his time on the board of Ukrainian energy company Burisma, now faces a criminal tax probe by the Justice Department.
Giuliani also sought to undermine former US ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, who was pushed out on Trump’s orders, and met several times with Ukrainian lawmaker Yuriy Lutsenko, who released edited recordings of Biden in an effort to smear him before the election.
Prosecutors have looked into Giuliani’s work with Lutsenko, the Times reported.
The full scope of the investigation is unclear, but it at least partly involves the Ukraine dealings, law enforcement officials have told the AP.
Giuliani did not immediately respond to Reuters and AP requests for comment.
Federal prosecutors in Manhattan had pushed last year for a search warrant for records, including some of Giuliani’s communications, but officials in the Trump-era Justice Department would not sign off on the request, according to multiple people cited by the AP familiar with the investigation who insisted on anonymity to speak about an ongoing investigation.
Officials in the deputy attorney general’s office raised concerns about both the scope of the request, which they thought would contain communications that could be covered by legal privilege between Giuliani and Trump, and the method of obtaining the records, three of the people said.
They could not discuss the investigation publicly and spoke to AP on condition of anonymity.
The issue was widely expected to be revisited by the Justice Department once Attorney General Merrick Garland assumed office.
Without corrupt interference by Trump’s DOJ the Rudy investigation is moving & a judge has found probable cause to believe a crime was committed. Warrants to search lawyers are hard to get — more approvals & prosecutors move carefully. This is big. https://t.co/CvJHEErXNy
— Jennifer Rodgers (@JenGRodgers) April 28, 2021
Garland was confirmed last month and Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco was confirmed to her position and sworn in last week. The Justice Department requires that applications for search warrants served on lawyers be approved by senior department officials.
A Justice Department spokesperson did not immediately respond to an AP request for comment. The US Attorney’s office in Manhattan declined to comment Wednesday.