In a significant expansion of the Justice Department's investigation into former President Donald Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani's business practices, federal agents raided his Manhattan home and workplace, seizing computers and cellphones.
Giuliani, the 76-year-old former mayor of New York City who was once lauded for his leadership after the 9/11 attacks, has been under federal investigation for several years over his links to Ukraine. The two searches gave the clearest warning yet that he may face federal charges in the future.
According to reports, agents searched Giuliani's home on Madison Avenue and his Park Avenue office. The warrants, which must be approved by the Justice Department's highest levels, indicate that prosecutors believe they have probable cause that Giuliani committed a federal crime, but they do not guarantee that charges will be filed.
A third search warrant was executed on the phone of Victoria Toensing, a former federal prosecutor and near ally of Giuliani and Trump in Washington. Her law firm said she has been told that she is not a subject of the investigation.
The investigation's full extent is unknown, but law enforcement sources have told the Associated Press that it at least partially includes Giuliani's activities in Ukraine.
Giuliani accused federal authorities of a "corrupt double standard," citing claims he's made against prominent Democrats, and said the Justice Department was "running roughshod over the civil rights of everyone interested with, or legally defending, former President Donald J. Trump" in a statement issued by his lawyer.
According to the statement, “Mr. Giuliani respects the law and can show that his actions as a lawyer and a citizen were fully lawful and ethical.”
The federal investigation into Giuliani's Ukraine dealings came to a halt last year due to a disagreement about investigative methods as Trump ran unsuccessfully for re-election. Following that, Giuliani took the lead in contesting the election outcome on behalf of the Republicans.
The raids took place months after Trump stepped down as president and lost his right to pardon allies accused of federal crimes. Though there is no evidence that Trump is being investigated, he no longer has the Oval Office's legal guarantees once offered him.
Many individuals in Trump's circle have been the subject of federal investigations in the past, including special counsel Robert Mueller's inquiry into Russian election interference. However, the majority of such criminal cases fizzled or fell apart. Giuliani's is exclusive.
Giuliani was a key figure in then-President Barack Obama's attempts to unearth dirt on Democratic rival Joe Biden and press Ukraine to launch an investigation into Biden and his partner, Hunter now the subject of a criminal tax investigation by the Justice Department.
Giuliani also met with a Ukrainian lawmaker who published edited recordings of Biden in an attempt to slander him before the election and tried to discredit former US ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, who was forced out on Trump's orders.
The warrants included an accusation that Giuliani refused to register as a foreign agent, according to Giuliani's counsel, Robert Costello, and that investigative documents listed John Solomon, a former columnist, and regular Fox News analyst with close links to Giuliani, who promoted false or unsubstantiated charges concerning Ukraine and Biden during the 2020 election.