NEW YORK (NewsNation Now) — Federal agents on Wednesday raided Rudy Giuliani’s Manhattan home and office, seizing computers and cell phones in a major escalation of the Justice Department’s investigation into the business dealings of former President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer.
The former New York City mayor has been under investigation for several years over his business dealings in Ukraine. Details of the search were not immediately available, but it comes as the Justice Department continues its investigation into the former New York City mayor and staunch Trump ally.
Agents searched Giuliani’s home on Madison Avenue and his office on Park Avenue, people familiar with the investigation told the Associated Press. The warrants, which require approval from the top levels of the Justice Department, signify prosecutors believe they have probable cause that Giuliani committed a federal crime — though they don’t guarantee charges will materialize.
The full scope of the investigation is unclear, but it at least partly involves Giuliani’s dealings in Ukraine, law enforcement officials have told the AP.
The people discussing the searches and Wednesday’s developments could not do so publicly and spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity. News of the search was first reported by The New York Times.
In a statement, Giuliani’s attorney, Robert J. Costello, criticized the raid on the former mayor’s home.
“The search warrants involve only one indication of an alleged incident of failure to register as a foreign agent,” said Costello. “Mayor Giuliani has not only denied this allegation, but offered twice in the past two years through his attorney Bob Costello to demonstrate that it is entirely untrue. Twice the offer was rejected by the SDNY by stating that while they were willing to listen to anything Mr. Costello had to say, they would not tell Mr. Giuliani or Mr. Costello, the subject matter they wanted him to address.”
Giuliani’s son, Andrew, commented to the media after the search and called it “absurd.”
“Any American, whether you’re red or blue should be extremely distributed by what happened here today by the continued pollicization of the justice department… If this can happen to the former president’s lawyer, this can happen to any American,” said the younger Giuliani.
He added that the FBI did not take Hunter Biden’s alleged laptop which he called the “only incriminating evidence” in the apartment.
Giuliani was central to the then-president’s efforts to dig up dirt against Democratic rival Joe Biden and to press Ukraine for an investigation into Biden and his son, Hunter — who himself now faces a criminal tax probe by the Justice Department. Giuliani also sought to undermine former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, who was pushed out on Trump’s orders, and met several times with a Ukrainian lawmaker who released edited recordings of Biden in an effort to smear him before the election.
A message left for Giuliani’s lawyer wasn’t immediately returned. Giuliani had previously called the investigation is “pure political persecution.”
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 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. The people 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. 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 a request for comment. The U.S. Attorney’s office in Manhattan declined to comment Wednesday.