Federal investigators have executed a search warrant on Rudy Giuliani, President Donald Trump’s former personal lawyer, at his Upper East Side apartment in New York City over his alleged dealings with Ukraine, The New York Times reports.
According to the publication, investigators seized several electronic devices during the raid.
The Independent has contacted the Manhattan US Attorney’s office for a comment.
Mr Giuliani’s lawyer Bob Costello called the raid “totally unnecessary” and said it was only for “bad publicity” to “make him [Rudy] look like he’s some sort of criminal.” according to Fox News.
The search warrant suggests that federal authorities were further pursuing their investigation into whether Mr Giuliani, who previously served as New York City’s mayor, illegally lobbied the Trump administration on behalf of Ukranian officials and oligarchs in 2019 ahead of the 2020 election.
Those same officials were aiding Mr Giuliani in his search to find dirt against Mr Trump’s political rivals, which included then-Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden.
This move by investigators was an extraordinary one, though, given Mr Giuliani previously served as a lawyer to a former president. But in recent years federal investigators also sought a search warrant against Michael Cohen, another former lawyer of Mr Trump.
The Manhattan US Attorney’s office and FBI have sought for months to obtain a search warrant on Mr Giuliani’s phones, according to The New York Times.
Mr Giuliani has not been charged with any crimes and he denies all wrongdoings, but a probe into his alleged involvement was ongoing.
When Mr Trump was president, Justice Department officials reportedly attempted to block the Manhattan US Attorney’s office from obtaining a search warrant for Mr Giuliani’s phones. Once Merrick B Garland was confirmed as Mr Biden’s attorney general, the Justice Department lifted its objections to the search warrant.
In order for prosecutors to obtain a search warrant, they must first prove to a judge that a search warrant would likely provide evidence of a crime being committed.
Federal investigators have been looking into Mr Giuliani’s potential dealings with Ukraine for several years. In October 2019, The Wall Street Journal revealed that New York prosecutors were reviewing the lawyer’s bank records as part of their investigation into his dealings with the country.
Mr Giuliani has also been a key figure in the first impeachment probe that Mr Trump faced while president.
During the impeachment, Democrats claimed that there was overwhelming evidence that the former president abused his power by attempting to convince Ukraine officials to release dirt on Mr Biden and his son Hunter Biden through the withholding of $400m in aid.
In 2019, two associates to Mr Giuliani, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, were indicted on campaign finance charges that allegedly stemmed from a straw donor scheme – which involves someone illegally using another person’s money to make a political contribution.
The two associates helped Mr Giuliani meet Ukraine officials involved in the current probe. Both men pleaded not guilty to the charges against them.
Join our new commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies