Federal investigators raided the New York apartment of president Donald Trump’s former personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani early Wednesday as part of a probe into his dealings in Ukraine, US media reported.
Investigators with search warrants combed Giuliani’s residence and a separate office, seizing electronic devices, The New York Times said, citing unnamed sources familiar with the investigation.
Giuliani, himself once a top New York prosecutor and then mayor of the city, was a personal lawyer for Trump when the president was impeached for seeking political help from Ukraine.
Giuliani spent months trying to help Trump find dirt on election rival Joe Biden in Ukraine, and on Biden’s son Hunter, during 2018-2020.
The investigation reportedly involves Giuliani’s work on behalf of Ukrainian businessmen and political actors that could violate US lobbying laws.
According to reports, the FBI and the Justice Department’s prosecutor in New York had sought search warrants for Giuliani’s phones last year, but were denied that while Trump remained in office, until January 20.
Under the new attorney general, Merrick Garland, in the administration of now-President Biden, the warrants were evidently approved.
The FBI and Justice Department declined to confirm the raids or the investigation.
The New York Times quoted Giuliani’s own attorney, Robert Costello, as calling the raids Wednesday “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 asked.
Investigations of lawyers, especially those who represented a president, are highly sensitive, given protections they have for privileged dealings with clients.
Nevertheless, a previous personal attorney for Trump, Michael Cohen, was sent to prison in 2019 after pleading guilty to charges including paying hush money to two women who said they slept with Trump, for tax fraud and for lying to Congress.
On January 11, the US Treasury imposed sanctions on four Ukrainians who it said helped Giuliani in the effort to smear Biden ahead of the 2020 presidential election.