After months of being stymied by Trump-appointed leadership at the Justice Department, the federal investigation into Rudy Giuliani escalated with a search of his office and home Wednesday, the New York Times reported, as part of an investigation into his Ukraine-related conduct. A source familiar with the probe confirmed to TPM that a search warrant was executed on Giuliani’s office and home Wednesday morning.
Giuliani’s attorney Robert Costello confirmed the searches to the Times and to the Wall Street Journal. Costello told the Journal the warrant was seeking communications that Giuliani had with John Solomon, a journalist who was a conduit in the efforts by Trump allies to smear Joe Biden in 2019. Electronic devices were seized in the search, which began at around 6 a.m. ET, according to Costello’s account to the Journal.
The FBI also searched the D.C.-area home of Victoria Toensing on Wednesday, another attorney involved with Giuliani in the Ukraine dirt-digging attempt, the New York Times reported.
Investigators have been probing Giuliani’s business dealings in Ukraine, and how those dealings related to his efforts to oust the U.S. ambassador there. Giuliani’s Ukraine meddling was the focus of the 2019 impeachment proceedings against President Trump, which examined how Trump and his allies, including the former New York mayor, pressured Ukrainian officials to dig up dirt on Biden.
The warrant cited potential violations of foreign lobbying rules, according to Costello’s account to the Journal. Costello called the searches “legal thuggery” and told the Times that Giuliani had expressed a willingness to answer prosecutors’ questions as long as they didn’t involve his conversations with Trump that were covered by attorney-client privileged.
The investigation has been spearheaded by federal prosecutors in Manhattan. They and their FBI counterparts first began considering seeking the search warrant last summer, according to the Times. But they were unable to get approval for the warrant from the leadership in the Justice Department’s D.C. headquarters, the Times said, in part because of the election that was approaching. (The DOJ has a policy avoiding public investigatory actions in the weeks leading up to the election that could affect the election). Those prosecutors tried to get the okay for the warrant again after the election, according to the Times, and again faced objections from leadership, who pointed to Trump’s ongoing challenges to the election results.
The Justice Department cleared the way for the search warrant after the Senate confirmed Attorney General Merrick Garland.
The Manhattan U.S. Attorney’s office has been investigating Giuliani’s Ukraine since at least August 2019. Two of the associates Giuliani worked with in his Ukraine dirt-digging campaign, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, were charged in September 2019 for campaign finance violations.