Federal agents raided the home of Rudy Giuliani and seized his electronic devices on Wednesday as part of an ongoing investigation into his business dealings in Ukraine, according to the former mayor's lawyer.
Investigators in Manhattan executed a search warrant at the Upper East Side home of the former New York City mayor and personal attorney for Donald Trump, officials told the Associated Press and The New York Times. Seven FBI agents woke Giuliani at his apartment after rejecting his attorney's offer to voluntarily speak to prosecutors, local news outlet 1010 WINS reported.
The raid comes amid a long-running federal investigation into whether Giuliani illegally lobbied the Trump administration on behalf of Ukrainian oligarchs who helped him search for dirt on President Joe Biden during the 2020 campaign.
The Department of Justice repeatedly blocked prosecutors from the Southern District of New York — which Giuliani once led — from executing the warrant in the final months of the Trump administration, The Times previously reported. But that interference ended when Attorney General Merrick Garland took over the department, the outlet revealed on Wednesday.
Giuliani has denied any wrongdoing. His attorney, Robert Costello, told the outlet that the raid 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 said.
Though the warrant is not an "explicit accusation of wrongdoing," the outlet noted, "it shows that the investigation has entered an aggressive new phase." Officials would have had to convince a judge that they had sufficient belief that a crime was committed and that the raid would yield evidence of it.
Costello told The Wall Street Journal that the search warrant focused on possible lobbying violations and sought communications between Giuliani and other individuals, including John Solomon, a columnist who spread Giuliani's false claims about the Bidens.
Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, former associates of Giuliani who helped him search for information on Biden and connected him to Ukrainian officials, were previously charged with unrelated crimes in 2019. Both men have pleaded not guilty. Investigators gained access to some of Giuliani's communications in their probe of the two men, according to CNN.
Prosecutors have reviewed Giuliani's business dealings in Ukraine, according to The Times, and his role in ousting then-Ukraine Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch, who testified to Congress in Trump's first impeachment that Giuliani orchestrated a smear campaign against her because she opposed his effort to get Ukraine to announce an investigation into Biden. Giuliani seemingly admitted to this in an interview with The New Yorker in 2019, telling the outlet that he "needed Yovanovitch out of the way" because she "was going to make the investigations difficult for everybody."
Prosecutors are looking at whether Giuliani worked on behalf of Ukrainian officials or companies while representing Trump, sources told the Times. The investigation is also looking at whether Giuliani violated the Foreign Agents Registration Act, which requires anyone lobbying the federal government on behalf of foreign officials to register with the Justice Department. Former Trump campaign chief Paul Manafort and former Trump fundraiser Elliott Broidy both pleaded guilty to FARA violations before they were pardoned by Trump in January.
Prosecutors are particularly interested in Giuliani's dealings with former top Ukrainian prosecutor Yuri Lutsenko, who was fired for corruption before feeding Giuliani false information about Biden. Though the deal ultimately fell apart, documents obtained by The Times and The Washington Post in 2019 showed that Giuliani had negotiated a contract to represent Lutsenko in his bid to recover assets taken in the corruption probe for at least $200,000. Lutsenko ultimately admitted to reporters that there was no wrongdoing on behalf of Biden or his son, Hunter, in Ukraine.
Prosecutors have also looked at Giuliani's dealings with Dmitry Firtash, a Ukrainian oligarch with deep ties to Russia who faces extradition to the U.S. on bribery and racketeering charges. Firtash claimed in 2019 that Giuliani had offered to help with his legal case in exchange for assistance finding dirt on Biden.
Prosecutors have also looked at Giuliani's dealings with Pavel Fuks, a Ukrainian-Russian developer who was involved in discussions about a potential Trump Tower project in Moscow. Fuks claimed in 2019 that he had hired Giuliani to lobby on behalf of Ukraine in the U.S., a claim which the former mayor denied.
Prosecutors prepared the search warrant for Giuliani's home as early as last summer, according to The Times. However, political appointees shot down the idea because it was too close to the election, even though career Justice Department officials "largely supported the search warrant."
Prosecutors reportedly sought to execute the warrant in December following the election but Trump's appointees again blocked the move, arguing that Giuliani was representing Trump in his legal challenges over his election loss.
Though reports about the investigation have focused on lobbying violations and Giuliani's efforts to oust Yovanovitch, The Wall Street Journal reported in 2019 that subpoenas issued in the probe "indicate a broad federal investigation into possible money laundering, obstruction of justice and campaign-finance violations."