[Updated] Feds Execute Search Warrants at Giuliani’s Apartment, Office

Federal investigators executed search warrants Wednesday morning at Rudy Giuliani’s Manhattan apartment and office, signaling an aggressive new phase of the Justice Department’s criminal investigation into Donald Trump’s personal lawyer’s dealing with Ukraine. The New York Times is reporting that investigators seized Giuliani’s electronic devices from his Upper East Side residence and his Park Avenue apartment during the 6:00 a.m. raid.

Obtaining and executing a search warrant is an extraordinary step for prosecutors to take against a lawyer, especially one who is a lawyer for a former president, a former federal prosecutor and former mayor of New York City. The FBI and U.S. Attorney’s office in Manhattan had sought to obtain a warrant for Giuliani’s phones for months but had been blocked by the Justice Department under the Trump administration and former Attorney General Bill Barr.

Once he was sworn in as attorney general, Merrick Garland lifted the department’s objection to the search. While the warrant is not an explicit accusation of wrongdoing against Giuliani, it does shows that investigators are stepping up their scrutiny of the Trump confidant. To obtain a search warrant, investigators have to be able to persuade a judge that they have sufficient reason to believe that a crime was committed and that the search would turn up evidence of the crime.

The long-running federal investigation has been focused on whether Giuliani illegally lobbied the Trump administration in 2019 on behalf of Ukrainian officials and oligarchs, who at the same time were helping Giuliani search for dirt on Trump’s political foes, including President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter.

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.

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