Federal authorities raided the Manhattan apartment of former President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, on Wednesday amid a continuing investigation into the former New York mayor’s dealings in Ukraine, a person familiar with the matter told USA TODAY.
The move represents the highest-profile action yet as part of the inquiry into Giuliani’s lobbying efforts in Ukraine at a time when he was searching for damaging information to assist Trump in the campaign against President Joe Biden.
The development was first reported by The New York Times.
Giuliani and his lawyer did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
But the former mayor’s son, Andrew Giuliani, a former Trump aide, called the Justice action “extremely disturbing.”
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Speaking to reporters outside his father’s apartment building late Wednesday, he said the investigation represented a “continued politicization of the Justice Department.”
“This is disgusting … absolutely absurd,” he said.
The Justice Department declined comment Wednesday; the FBI did not respond to inquiries.
Who is Victoria Toensing?
As the investigation played out in public in New York, federal investigators also served a search warrant early Wednesday at the home of Washington lawyer Victoria Toensing, who along with her husband, lawyer Joe diGenova, have been close to Giuliani.
Toensing handed over a cell phone, a person familiar with the matter said.
“Ms. Toensing is a former federal prosecutor and senior Justice Department official,” a spokesperson for the couple’s firm said. “She has always conducted herself and law practice according to the highest legal and ethical standards. She would have been happy to turn over any relevant documents. All they had to do was ask.”
The firm also said that agents informed Toensing that she is “not a target of the investigation.”
Going back to Lev Parnas, Igor Fruman
Federal investigators have been examining Giuliani since at least early 2019 related to his business dealings with Ukranian-born Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, of Belarus, who had been indicted in the fall of 2019 on campaign finance charges.
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An attorney, Kenneth McCallion, who has represented several Ukrainian clients in U.S. court cases, including former Ukraine Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, told USA TODAY at the time that agents asked him about Giuliani’s business dealings with Parnas and Fruman.
The two men played instrumental roles in connecting Giuliani with Ukrainian officials as Giuliani sought information about the financial dealings there of Biden’s son, Hunter Biden.
At the time, McCallion said he “was asked a lot of questions by FBI and other counterintelligence investigators who were looking at Giuliani’s comings and goings in Ukraine and business dealings.”
In the last year of the Trump administration, the federal inquiry had been tangled in an internal dispute as prosecutors sought to push it forward.
During the transition to the Biden administration, it was expected that Attorney General Merrick Garland would be consulted on how the inquiry would proceed.
Following Trump’s unsuccessful re-election campaign, Giuliani led Trump’s failed efforts to challenge Biden’s election, as courts across the country rejected unfounded claims of voter fraud.
2nd Trutargeted by feds
The raid represents the second time a personal lawyer for Trump has been targeted by federal authorities.
Three years ago, federal investigators raided the offices and home of Michael Cohen, as part of an investigation that led to his conviction.
Cohen pleaded guilty in 2018 to lying to Congress about plans to build a Trump Tower in Russia and, in a separate case, to paying off an adult film star and a former Playboy model who said they had sexual affairs with Trump before he was elected.
The attorney, who has since turned against Trump, insisted he acted at the direction of Trump, who has denied both affairs. Cohen had been sentenced to a three-year prison sentence but was released to home confinement because of the coronavirus pandemic.
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