Federal investigators carried out search warrants on Wednesday morning in the home and office of Rudy Giuliani in Manhattan, former New York City mayor who was former President Donald Trump’s personal attorney, NBC News reported.
The searches were part of a criminal investigation into Giuliani’s business in Ukraine, the New York Times reported on Wednesday, citing three people with knowledge of the matter.
FBI agents were taken to Giuliani’s apartment by his doorman, a source close to the former mayor told CNBC.
They handed Giuliani an arrest warrant and requested “all electronic devices,” the source said.
Giuliani gave them a cell phone, iPad, and laptop, according to the source. The agents left after about 45 minutes, the source added. The arrest warrant for Giuliani’s office also authorized the seizure of electronic devices.
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A source told NBC that FBI agents had also executed a search warrant in the home of Republican attorney Victoria Toensing near Giuliani, near Washington.
Toensing, who is married to and works with former top Washington, DC prosecutor Joseph diGenova, represented Ukrainian oligarch Dmytro Firtash, who is himself the subject of indictment in the United States.
The source said no other arrest warrants other than those against Toensing and Giuliani were carried out on Wednesday.
The diGenova-Toensing law firm released a statement early Wednesday evening saying it was not a target in the investigation.
“Ms. Toensing is a former federal prosecutor and an official of the Ministry of Justice. She has always behaved and her legal practice according to the highest legal and ethical standards,” the statement said. “She would have liked to hand over all relevant documents. All they had to do was ask. Ms. Toensing was informed that she is NOT a target of the investigation.”
Giuliani is a retired United States attorney for the Southern District of New York, the same bureau that is investigating him.
The New York prosecutor’s office last year obtained approval from top Justice Department officials to request a search warrant for Giuliani’s electronic communications, NBC reported.
A source familiar with the investigation told NBC on Wednesday that prosecutors had sufficient grounds to obtain a search warrant late last year.
But the source said it was “just a matter of timing,” suggesting the Department of Justice – which oversees individual US law firms – may want to wait until the Trump administration ended in January.
A Giuliani attorney, Robert Costello, said authorities arrived at the Upper East Side apartment at 6 a.m. and confiscated electronic devices during the search, the Wall Street Journal reported.
The investigation is investigating possible violations of foreign lobbying rules, and the search warrant looked for communications between Giuliani and others, including conservative columnist John Solomon, Costello told The Journal.
Costello called the search “Legal Thuggery,” according to The Journal.
The home of former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, US President Donald Trump’s personal attorney, can be seen in Manhattan, New York, New York, USA on April 28, 2021.
Andrew Kelly | Reuters
Giuliani tweeted Wednesday that he would be making a live statement on WABC-AM radio in New York at 3 p.m. ET. But he didn’t appear on that station as planned, and the show, hosted by Dominic Carter at the time, was discussing the Mayor’s race in New York City.
Giuliani also deleted his tweet.
In a detailed statement to NBC late Wednesday, Costello accused the Justice Department of “corrupt double standards” and compared his treatment of Giuliani to “high-ranking Democrats whose blatant crimes are ignored, such as Hilary Clinton, Hunter Biden and Joe Biden.”
Costello’s statement also alleged that the extracted materials were “loaded” with information that is protected under the rights of an attorney or client.
A Trump spokesman did not immediately respond to CNBC’s comments. The Justice Department and a spokesman for the SDNY declined to comment.
Giuliani attempted to gather harmful information about Hunter Biden in connection with the younger Biden’s business relationships in Ukraine in 2019.
Efforts by Giuliani, Trump, and others in his orbit to pressure Ukrainian officials to investigate the Bidens – or at least announce an investigation – prompted House Democrats to indict the former president for the first time. Democrats argued that Trump’s re-election ambitions sparked the dirt-seeking efforts.
The Senate, which was held by Republicans at the time, acquitted Trump.
Prosecutors in Manhattan were known to be reviewing Giuliani’s bank records in connection with an investigation into his activities in Ukraine.
Giuliani responded to the investigation last winter, claiming in an angry tweet that federal investigators were acting as “secret police” to aid Biden.
“You want to confiscate my e-mails. No reason. No wrongdoing. Attorney-client privilege.?” Giuliani tweeted on December 22nd.
The search was the second time SDNY investigators raided the property of someone who was serving as Trump’s attorney.
The first was Michael Cohen, whose office and home were raided three years ago this month.
Cohen, once a Trump loyalist, later turned on his former boss and pleaded guilty to several crimes related to the ex-president and the Trump organization. Trump and Giuliani both annoyed Cohen after his plea in November 2018.
Cohen is currently partnering with an ongoing criminal investigation into Trump and his business conducted by the Manhattan District Attorney’s office, Cyrus Vance Jr. This investigation focuses, among other things, on possible banking and insurance fraud related to Trump Organization real estate assets.
In a tweet on Wednesday, Cohen responded enthusiastically to news of the raid on Giuliani’s property.
“Here we go people !!!” Cohen tweeted.
Andrew Giuliani, the son of the former mayor and former Trump administration official, told CNN last week that he would be traveling to Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida to meet with the ex-president Discuss New York gubernatorial offer.
Meanwhile, in Manhattan, journalists and spectators were still gathered in front of Rudy Giuliani’s apartment building early Thursday evening when “It’s the Hard Knock Life” from the musical “Annie” was blown from a nearby car.
A passing man asked who the crowd was waiting for. “Steve Bannon,” one woman replied jokingly, referring to Trump’s former top advisor and campaign manager. Before stepping down, Trump pardoned Bannon, who had been on federal charges.
When he was told that the reporters and photographers were waiting for Giuliani, the man cracked: “Giuliani was attacked today? Over time.”
– CNBC’s Amanda Macias and Shepard Smith contributed to this report.