Federal investigators executed a search warrant on Wednesday at Rudy Giuliani’s Manhattan apartment and Park Avenue office, according to multiple reports, marking a big move by prosecutors in the investigation into the former New York City mayor’s dealings in Ukraine.
Sources said investigators seized Giuliani’s electronic devices during the search, according to the New York Times and others.
FBI agents also executed a search warrant on Wednesday at the Washington-area home of Victoria Toensing, a former federal prosecutor and wife to ex-U.S. Attorney Joe DiGenova, both of whom are close to Giuliani and have had dealings with Ukrainians who have sought damaging information about the Bidens.
Giuliani is the former United States attorney for the Southern District of New York, the same office that is investigating him. The attorney was alerted to the investigation last winter, where he alleged on Twitter that federal investigators were acting as “secret police” to help Biden.
Giuliani, who served as former President Donald Trump‘s personal attorney, has been eyed by federal authorities on whether he illegally lobbied the previous administration in 2019 on behalf of Ukrainian officials and oligarchs while searching for damaging information on Trump’s political rivals, including President Joe Biden, then the leading candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination.
Giuliani’s lawyer, Robert Costello, “said authorities, who arrived at Mr. Giuliani’s apartment at 6 a.m., seized Mr. Giuliani’s electronic devices” and “said the search warrant describes the investigation as an investigation into a possible violation of foreign lobbying rules,” the Wall Street Journal reported.
Costello said that “the warrant sought communications between Mr. Giuliani and individuals including John Solomon, a columnist who was in communication with Mr. Giuliani about his effort to push for investigations of Joe Biden in Ukraine.” Giuliani’s lawyer called the search “legal thuggery.”
A statement was also released by diGenova & Toensing, which is the law firm for the conservative husband-and-wife legal duo diGenova and Toensing.
“Ms. Toensing is a former federal prosecutor and Senior Justice Department Official. She has always conducted herself and her law practice according to the highest legal standards. She would have been happy to turn over any relevant documents. All they had to do was ask. Ms. Toensing was informed that she is NOT a target of the investigation,” the statement said.
The warrant is related to alleged suspicions that Giuliani may have violated the Foreign Agents Registration Act, according to Fox News, which quoted Costello claiming the raid was done to “make him look like he’s some sort of criminal.”
The New York Daily News shared a lengthy statement from Costello, pointing to allegations of criminal activity by Joe Biden’s son, Hunter, accusing the younger Biden of “failing to register numerous times as a foreign agent” and “money laundering,” among other crimes.
Giuliani’s statement claimed that “the Biden Department of Justice has completely ignored clear evidence (which the FBI has had for over a year) in texts and emails on Hunter Biden’s hard drive” and “instead, the Justice Department decided it was a higher priority to serve (at dawn) search warrants for electronics at the home and law office of former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani.” The statement added: “The search warrants involve only one indication of an alleged incident of failure to register as a foreign agent. Mayor Giuliani has not only denied this allegation, but offered twice in the past two years through his attorney Bob Costello to Democrats that it is entirely untrue. Twice the offer was rejected by the SDNY.”
The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Manhattan and the FBI have reportedly long sought to obtain a search warrant for Giuliani’s cellular devices.
Senior political appointees in the Justice Department under Trump repeatedly sought to block a search warrant on the former mayor.
The Justice Department has guidance related to “election year sensitivities,” most recently addressed by then-Attorney General William Barr in a February 2020 memo.
“The Department has long recognized that it must exercise particular care regarding sensitive investigations and prosecutions that relate to political candidates, campaigns, and other politically sensitive individuals and organizations — especially in an election year,” Barr’s memo read. “As we enter the 2020 election year, the Department remains committed to ensuring that this fall’s elections are conducted in a fair manner that is free from inappropriate influences.”
Now that the DOJ is headed by Attorney General Merrick Garland, the agency has lifted objections to the Giuliani search.
The Justice Department directed the Washington Examiner to the FBI, and the bureau declined to comment. The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York did not immediately provide a comment.
Alleged efforts to pressure Ukrainian officials to investigate Biden’s family prompted House Democrats to impeach the former president for the first time. Democrats argued Trump aspired to find damaging information on the current president and his family to boost his reelection efforts.
Trump was acquitted in February last year by the Republican-majority Senate after the House voted to impeach him on Dec. 18, 2019.
During a July 25, 2019, call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, Trump asked Zelesnky “to do us a favor” and to look into a CrowdStrike conspiracy theory and any possible Ukrainian election interference in 2016. Trump also urged Zelensky to investigate “the other thing,” referring to allegations of corruption related to Joe and Hunter Biden; the latter Biden was revealed in late 2020 to be under a DOJ investigation for his taxes. Trump told Zelensky to speak with Giuliani and Barr.
Barr was reportedly dismayed to discover Trump had grouped him in with Giuliani. The Trump Justice Department insisted then that the president had never told his attorney general to contact Ukraine about any investigation of the Bidens.
Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, associates of Giuliani, were charged over an alleged scheme to funnel foreign money to Republican politicians. Prosecutors claimed that “these contributions were made for the purpose of gaining influence with politicians so as to advance their own personal financial interests and the political interests of Ukrainian government officials.” A trial is set for this fall. House Democrats released a trove of texts and documents in January 2020 related to efforts by Giuliani and his associates to remove then-Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch from her post in Kyiv.
The Trump Justice Department rejected allegations by Parnas that Barr was involved in any Ukraine scheme, calling the claims “100% false” in January 2020.
A photograph of alleged meeting notes taken by Parnas on stationary from the Ritz Carlton in Vienna, Austria, detail Giuliani’s alleged plan to “get [Zelensky] to announce that the Biden case will be investigated.” Prosecutors revealed Parnas received a $1 million loan from Ukrainian oligarch Dmytro Firtash, who has fought the Justice Department’s efforts to extradite him to the U.S. from Vienna for years. Longtime Clinton ally and Democratic lawyer Lanny Davis worked for Firtash for years, but diGenova and Toensing took over his representation. Davis recently registered as a foreign agent to represent Firtash again.
Communications reveal Parnas was talking to former Ukrainian prosecutor Viktor Shokin. Biden bragged about successfully pressuring Ukraine’s former president to fire Shokin, and while Biden critics have said he did so for nefarious reasons, his defenders point to a wide agreement among leaders in the U.S., the European Union, the International Monetary Fund, and within Ukraine that Shokin was corrupt.