Giuliani's home searched as probe of former Trump lawyer intensifies

Giuliani's home searched as probe of former Trump lawyer intensifies

NEW YORK--Federal agents on Wednesday searched Rudolph Giuliani's Manhattan apartment and office, escalating their investigation into the Ukrainian business dealings of the onetime personal lawyer of former President Donald Trump.
A lawyer for Giuliani, 76, confirmed that search warrants had been executed, and that authorities had seized cell phones. The warrants included an allegation that Giuliani failed to register as a foreign agent, a violation of lobbying laws.
Prior to the 2020 presidential election, Giuliani led an effort to dig up dirt on then-Democratic contender Joe Biden and his son Hunter in Ukraine. Biden defeated the Republican Trump and is now president. He and his son have denied wrongdoing.
In a statement, Giuliani's lawyer Bob Costello defended his client and suggested the investigation was politically motivated. "Mayor Giuliani has not only denied this allegation, but offered twice in the past two years through his attorney Bob Costello to demonstrate that it is entirely untrue," the statement said. "Twice the offer was rejected."
Costello said the electronics seized were "replete" with information protected by attorney-client privilege.
Costello later said that prosecutors also had seized the work computer of Jo Ann Zafonte, Giuliani's longtime assistant. Zafonte is one of three Giuliani employees who have received subpoenas to appear before a grand jury in Manhattan, he said. She is scheduled to appear in mid-May. Zafonte did not immediately return a request for comment. A spokesman for U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss in Manhattan declined to comment.
Federal agents also executed a search warrant on Wednesday at the home of Victoria Toensing and Joseph diGenova, who are spouses, Giuliani associates and former prosecutors, and seized Toensing's cellphone. Toensing and diGenova have also represented Dmytro Firtash, a Ukrainian oligarch who has been indicted in the United States on bribery and racketeering charges and has fought extradition from Vienna.
Federal prosecutors have been looking at Giuliani for nearly 1-1/2 years. In November 2019, they sought records of payments to Giuliani as part of an active criminal investigation, according to a grand jury subpoena seen by Reuters. Prosecutors were investigating money laundering, wire fraud, campaign finance violations, making false statements, obstruction of justice and violations of the federal Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA), the subpoena said.
FARA requires "certain agents of foreign principals" to periodically disclose their relationships with them, including financial transactions.
While the search warrant does not mean Giuliani committed a crime, it signals that investigators had reason to believe criminal conduct had occurred, and convinced a judge that a search might uncover evidence of a crime. "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."