The FBI’s Wednesday raids on
Legal experts say the search warrant Federal Bureau of Investigation agents executed on Giuliani suggests charges will soon be brought as part of a long-running investigation into his work in Ukraine, including attempts to dig up dirt on
“It’s a clear indication that they’re very close to indicting him,” said Danya Perry, a former federal prosecutor. “Much thought has gone into this, and executing the search warrant is almost the last step in the playbook.”
Giuliani’s lawyer, Robert Costello, on Wednesday denied any wrongdoing by his client.
“Mr. Giuliani respects the law, and he can demonstrate that his conduct as a lawyer and a citizen was absolutely legal and ethical,” Costello said in a statement.
The investigation is being conducted by the same Manhattan U.S. attorney’s office that Giuliani once led. Before winning office as New York City’s 107th mayor in 1993, he made his name as a prosecutor who took on the mob, corrupt politicians and some of the biggest names on Wall Street. He famously directed federal agents to make their arrests on trading floors.
“It is really extraordinary,” said
Yet the FBI search warrant is also just the latest blow Giuliani’s image as “America’s Mayor” has taken since he became a fierce loyalist and personal lawyer to former President
The search warrant on Giuliani in some respects echoes the April 2018 FBI raid on the apartment of another Trump lawyer.
Cohen on Wednesday responded gleefully on Twitter when the New York Times first reported that the FBI was searching Giuliani’s apartment.
People familiar with the matter said the Justice Department under Trump declined to authorize a warrant on Giuliani. Costello said Wednesday the decision to move forward now showed the warrant was politically motivated. Giuliani’s son Andrew, who has suggested he may run for New York governor, called the search “disgusting” and likewise accused the Biden Justice Department of playing politics.
“If this happens to the former president’s lawyer, this could happen to any American,” he said. “Enough is enough.”
Gillers said he doubted that argument would gain much traction. “Given all the Constitutional protections against risk of error, it will be impossible for Giuliani to argue this is a fake investigation, that it’s politically motivated,” said Gillers. “It doesn’t mean he won’t say that, but the government has to produce.”
“This is a search warrant for the home of the former mayor of New York City, a former high-ranking Justice Department official, and they’re saying there’s now probable cause to believe there’s evidence of a crime, that evidence exists, and it’s at his home,” said Moscow, who’s now in private practice.
As Manhattan U.S. attorney, Giuliani brought headline-grabbing insider-trading cases against
“In the early points of his career he’d achieved things that lawyers struggle hard to get and fail,” said Gillers.
Giuliani went on to serve as New York mayor for two terms, during which he oversaw a sharp drop in crime but also fueled controversy over his embrace of stop-and-frisk and other racially charged police tactics. He earned praise across the political spectrum though for his leadership during the Sept. 11, 2001, World Trade Center attack. After leaving City Hall, he unsuccessfully sought the 2008 Republican presidential nomination, but largely focused on a lucrative portfolio of legal and consulting work. Many of his clients were foreign political or business leaders, including in Ukraine.
Giuliani’s consulting work posed no risks when it was confined to foreign soil, but raising anything on behalf of foreign clients with U.S. officials could raise potential violations of the Foreign Agent Registration Act, which requires lobbyists to disclose when they are working on behalf of foreign governments, according to legal experts.
The FBI on Wednesday also executed a warrant on
Trump’s request that Ukrainian officials launch an investigation of Biden ultimately led to his first impeachment though he was acquitted by the then Republican-controlled Senate.
Giuliani’s communications with Trump could be contained on some of the electronic devices seized by the FBI on Wednesday. A separate team of FBI agents not connected with the investigation will likely examine Giuliani’s communications with Trump and ensure nothing covered by attorney-client privilege is entered into evidence, said Gillers.
A number of other Trump associates were previously prosecuted for illegally lobbying on behalf of foreign interests, including former 2016 campaign chairman
Now, with Trump under scrutiny by Manhattan District Attorney
(Updates with response of Michael Cohen and Andrew Giuliani)
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