By Karen Freifeld and Jan Wolfe
Federal investigators on Wednesday executed a search warrant at the Manhattan apartment of Rudolph Giuliani, the former New York City mayor and personal lawyer to former U.S. President Donald Trump, as they probe his business dealings with Ukraine.
A lawyer for Giuliani, Bob Costello, confirmed that a search warrant had been executed. Electronic devices were among the items seized, according to the New York Times. Giuliani, 76, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Federal prosecutors in Manhattan have been investigating Giuliani’s dealings in Ukraine, which included an investigation before the 2020 election into now-President Joe Biden and his son Hunter’s dealings in that country. The Bidens have denied wrongdoing.
Giuliani began representing Trump, a fellow Republican, in April 2018 in connection with former Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
While the search warrant does not mean Giuliani committed a crime, it signals that investigators persuaded a judge they believed criminal conduct occurred and that executing the warrant might uncover relevant evidence.
“This is a seismic moment in the investigation,” said Jessica Levinson, a professor at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles.
“It’s a big deal to execute a search warrant concerning an attorney because of issues of attorney-client privilege,” she added. “It’s a bigger deal to execute a search warrant of an attorney who worked for the former president.”
Michael Cohen, a former personal lawyer to Trump who has become a critic of his former boss, tweeted: “Here we go folks!!!”
In Washington, Giuliani’s role was complex, with the former mayor frequently proclaiming himself a business consultant and lawyer in the private sector even as he enjoyed extraordinary access to the halls of power.
Two former Giuliani associates, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, have been charged with campaign finance violations and other crimes.
Parnas’ and Fruman’s work included efforts to help Giuliani dig up damaging information about the Bidens, and what prosecutors called an effort to remove then-U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch.
In December, Giuliani tweeted, “I’m proud to be number one on Biden Vindictive government list. Sounds like the DOJ anti-Trumpers can’t wait for Biden to make DOJ the GOVERNMENT Secret Police like they were under Obama.”
Giuliani gained early renown in the 1980s as the top federal prosecutor attorney in Manhattan, where he put leaders of five New York Mafia families in prison and successfully prosecuted Wall Street’s “junk bond king,” Michael Milken.
He later won wide acclaim and national fame as “America’s Mayor” for his efforts in helping New York City deal with and recover from the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. In 2008, Giuliani ran unsuccessfully for the Republican presidential nomination.