Federal agents have raided Rudy Giuliani’s Manhattan home and office, seizing computers and cell phones in a major escalation of the Justice Department’s investigation into the business dealings of former President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer.
Giuliani, the former New York City mayor once celebrated for his leadership in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, has been under federal scrutiny for several years over his ties to Ukraine. The dual searches sent the strongest signal yet that he could eventually face federal charges.
Agents searched Giuliani’s home on Madison Avenue and his office on Park Avenue, according to sources familiar with the investigation. The warrants, which require approval from the top levels of the Justice Department, signify prosecutors believe they have probable cause that Giuliani committed a federal crime — though they don’t guarantee charges will materialize.
Giuliani was central to the then-president Trump’s efforts to dig up dirt against Democratic rival Joe Biden and to press Ukraine for an investigation into Biden and his son, Hunter — who himself now faces a criminal tax probe by the Justice Department.
As he was pressuring Ukrainian officials to investigate the Bidens, Giuliani became fixated on removing the ambassador, Marie L. Yovanovitch, whom he saw as an obstacle to his efforts. At the urging of Giuliani and other Republicans, Trump ultimately ousted Yovanovitch.
As part of the investigation into Giuliani, prosecutors have explored whether he was working not only for Trump, but also for Ukrainian officials or businesses who wanted the ambassador to be dismissed for their own reasons, according to people briefed on the matter.
Among other things, prosecutors have examined discussions that Giuliani had about taking on hundreds of thousands of dollars in apparently unrelated consulting business from Yuriy Lutsenko, one of the officials who helped Mr. Giuliani and his associates in their efforts to tar Biden’s image.
Giuliani has said he turned down the deal, which would have involved helping the Ukrainian government recover money it believed had been stolen and stashed overseas.
Under the Foreign Agents Registration Act, or FARA, it is a federal crime to try to influence or lobby the United States government at the request or direction of a foreign official without disclosing it to the Justice Department.
Giuliani’s lawyer, Robert J. Costello, called the searches unnecessary.
“What they did today was legal thuggery,” Costello said. “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.”