Friday , September 29 2023
Rudolph W. Giuliani.

Rudy Giuliani’s apartment searched as part of Ukraine investigation

Spread the love

Federal investigators have executed a search warrant at a New York office and private apartment belonging to Rudy Giuliani, the former mayor of the city and personal lawyer to Donald Trump.

Federal authorities have been examining whether Giuliani illegally lobbied the Trump administration in 2019 on behalf of Ukrainian officials and oligarchs, who at the same time were helping him search for dirt on Trump’s political rivals.

Investigators had seized some of Giuliani’s electronic devices from the Upper East Side residence, and from his law office on Park Avenue, early on Wednesday, the New York Times reported.

Giuliani’s own lawyer, Robert Costello, condemned the raids as “legal thuggery,” claiming his client had cooperated with prosecutors and offered to answer questions not involving his “privileged” communications with Trump.

“What they did today was legal thuggery. Why would you do this to anyone, let alone someone who was the associate attorney general, United States attorney, the mayor of New York City and the personal lawyer to the 45th president of the United States,” he told the Wall Street Journal.

Giuliani posted, then deleted, a tweet saying he would be giving a live statement about the raids during his afternoon radio show on WABC radio. When the show started at 3pm, Giuliani was missing and a guest host, Dominic Carter, was presenting.

Giuliani was considered a heroic figure in New York politics for his role as a top mafia prosecutor and then as mayor during the 9/11 terror attacks. But his reputation nosedived during the Trump era as he became embroiled in numerous scandals involving the administration and his role as one of Trump’s most fervent cheerleaders and attack dogs.

In the infamous “quid pro quo” episode, officials in Ukraine were alleged to be simultaneously attempting to “dig up dirt” on Trump’s political rivals, including Joe Biden, who was shortly to become the Democratic party’s presidential nominee.

Biden’s son, Hunter, had business dealings in Ukraine when his father was Barack Obama’s vice-president earlier in the decade, including a seat on the board of Burisma, one of the country’s largest energy companies.

The Foreign Agents Registration Act (Fara) makes it a federal crime to try to influence or lobby the US government at the request of a foreign official without informing the justice department.

Giuliani was back at the heart of the news cycle after the 2020 presidential election last November. He was a leading proponent of “the big lie”, Trump’s false claim that the election was stolen from him by “widespread fraud” in the voting process.

Giuliani became something of a laughing stock when he represented Trump in numerous failed legal challenges to the election result and made inept appearances in court and at press conferences.

But the anti-democratic campaign ultimately led to the 6 January insurrection by Trump supporters at the US Capitol, during which five people lost their lives.

According to the New York Times, the US attorney’s office in Manhattan and the FBI have been seeking a search warrant for Giuliani’s phones for months, which officials in Trump’s justice department continually sought to block.

Following Trump’s departure from office in January, and confirmation in March by the US Senate of Biden’s pick Merrick Garland as attorney general, the justice department dropped its opposition.

The Times noted that while the warrant is not an explicit accusation of wrongdoing against Giuliani, it showed the investigation was entering “an aggressive new phase”. The newspaper contacted the FBI and US attorney’s office, both of which, it said, declined to comment.

In a tweet on Wednesday, Michael Cohen, Trump’s former personal attorney who was sentenced to three years in prison after pleading guilty to tax evasion, campaign finance fraud and lying to Congress, and who has since become a Trump critic, said simply: “Here we go folks!!!”

The New York Times further reported that the FBI also served a search warrant Wednesday on the Washington DC home of attorney Victoria Toensing, an associate of Giuliani and reported contact of Ukraine officials who were looking into the Bidens. Toensing, the newspaper said, has previously represented Dimitry Fitash, a Ukrainian energy billionaire with alleged mob contacts who is under indictment in the US for bribery.

The Wall Street Journal said Costello told its reporters that authorities arrived at Giuliani’s apartment at 6am and seized his devices.

He said the search warrant described the investigation as a probe into a possible violation of foreign lobbying rules and “sought communications between Mr Giuliani and individuals including John Solomon, a columnist who was corresponding with Mr Giuliani about his effort to push for investigations of Joe Biden in Ukraine”.

Solomon, a conservative political operative and Giuliani ally, has been accused of using his columns in the Hill to help spread disinformation about the Bidens’ dealings in Ukraine, his writing earning praise from Trump and his acolytes, who called them worthy of a Pulitzer.

The Hill, meanwhile, decided in 2018 to classify Solomon’s future contributions as “opinion.”

Costello added that in recent years he had offered to answer investigators’ questions as long as they agreed to say what area they were looking at ahead of time. He said they declined the offer. “It’s like I’m talking to a wall,” Costello said.

Prosecutors began looking into Giuliani after building an unrelated case against Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, two Soviet-born American citizens alleged to have aided his efforts in Ukraine and later charged with crimes including conspiracy and campaign finance violations.

The Times said the investigators were looking into Giuliani’s push to remove the then US ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, whom Trump considered disloyal and obstructive, and whom he removed in May 2019.

The Ukraine scandal, and Trump’s dark prediction during his notorious July 2019 call with the country’s prime minister Volodymyr Zelensky that Yovanovitch was “going to go through some things,” was the subject of Trump’s first impeachment trial.

About Charles Igbinidu

Charles Igbinidu is a Public Relations practitioner in Lagos, Nigeria

Check Also

U.S. military asks public for help finding missing F-35 stealth fighter jet

Spread the loveUS military officials are asking the public for help to find a fighter jet after …

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Verified by ExactMetrics