Federal investigators executed a search warrant Wednesday morning at the New York City apartment of
his lawyer said, an escalation of a yearslong investigation by Manhattan federal prosecutors into the former mayor.
Mr. Giuliani, who became former President
personal lawyer, has been under investigation since at least 2019 by the Manhattan U.S. Attorney’s office and the Federal Bureau of Investigation for his business dealings in Ukraine, for possible violation of federal lobbying laws.
The execution of the search warrant was earlier reported by the New York Times and was confirmed by Mr. Giuliani’s lawyer,
Mr. Costello said authorities, who arrived at Mr. Giuliani’s apartment at 6 a.m., seized Mr. Giuliani’s electronic devices.
Mr. Costello said the warrant sought communications between Mr. Giuliani and individuals including
a columnist who was in communication with Mr. Giuliani about his effort to push for Ukrainian investigations of President Biden before he was elected. Mr. Solomon didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
FBI agents also executed a search warrant at 6:30 a.m. Wednesday for the phone of Victoria Toensing, a lawyer who worked with Mr. Giuliani to push for Ukrainian investigations into Mr. Biden, according to people familiar with the investigation. Ms. Toensing turned over her phone, and agents didn’t search the house, one of the people said.
The search warrants for both Mr. Giuliani and Ms. Toensing described the investigation as a probe into a possible violation of foreign-lobbying rules, said Mr. Costello and a person familiar with the matter.
Mr. Costello told ABC News on Wednesday afternoon that Mr. Giuliani’s longtime assistant, Joann Zafonte, was served a subpoena to testify next month before a grand jury.
Mr. Costello in an interview called the search warrant “legal thuggery.” He said that in recent years he had offered to answer investigators’ questions as long as they agreed to say what area they were looking at ahead of time. He said they declined the offer. “It’s like I’m talking to a wall,” he said.
Mr. Giuliani has denied ever serving as a lobbyist or agent of a foreign government. On Wednesday Mr. Giuliani said on Twitter that he would appear on his afternoon radio show. The tweet was deleted minutes later, and another host took over the hourlong slot.
A statement released by Ms. Toensing’s law firm said she had been informed she wasn’t a target of the investigation. “She has always conducted herself and her law practice according to the highest legal and ethical standards,” the statement said. “She would have been happy to turn over any relevant documents. All they had to do was ask.”
A spokesman for the Manhattan U.S. Attorney’s office declined to comment. A spokeswoman for the FBI declined to comment.
Executing a search warrant on a lawyer—particularly a lawyer for a former president—is an unusual step for prosecutors to take. Before he was mayor of New York City, Mr. Giuliani served as the U.S. Attorney in Manhattan from 1983 to 1989, running the very office that is now investigating him.
Mr. Giuliani’s activities in Ukraine were at the center of the 2019 impeachment investigation into whether Mr.
abused his office as he pressured Ukraine to announce investigations he sought, including into Mr. Biden. Mr. Trump was impeached by the House, which was controlled by the Democrats, but acquitted by the GOP-led Senate.
Manhattan prosecutors’ interest in Mr. Giuliani’s work in Ukraine dates to at least 2019, when prosecutors sent subpoenas and other requests seeking records related to Mr. Giuliani and his associates. The subpoenas showed prosecutors were probing Mr. Giuliani’s consulting businesses and other sources of income. They have also examined his bank records, The Wall Street Journal previously reported.
Mr. Giuliani’s consulting firm, Giuliani Partners, has had several foreign clients, including a city in Ukraine.
The 2019 subpoenas came to light after Mr. Giuliani’s associates,
and Igor Fruman, were arrested in October that year on campaign-finance charges. Mr. Giuliani wasn’t charged in that matter, which is tentatively scheduled to go to trial later this year, but his consulting business and his work in Ukraine were entangled in the case.
Federal prosecutors at the time were looking into whether Mr. Giuliani violated federal lobbying laws by pushing for the removal of the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine at the behest of a Ukrainian official, according to a person familiar with the investigation into Messrs. Parnas and Fruman. Those efforts, which resulted in the ambassador’s firing, were laid out in the indictment against Messrs. Parnas and Fruman.
At the same time, Mr. Giuliani sought damaging information on Mr. Biden and his son,
from the Ukrainians. If prosecutors could prove Mr. Giuliani sought the ambassador’s firing in exchange for such information or anything else of value, it would potentially be a violation of lobbying laws, the person said.
One question raised in the 2019 subpoenas was whether Mr. Giuliani served as an unregistered agent of a foreign government or hid his work for foreign nationals, the Journal has reported, citing a person familiar with the investigation.
The request for correspondence with Mr. Solomon suggests that the scope of federal investigators’ interest in Mr. Giuliani’s activities is wider than previously known and that the probe is examining any informal or behind-the-scenes efforts to sow information about Mr. Biden and Ukraine across Washington and beyond.
As a columnist for The Hill, Mr. Solomon wrote repeatedly about the activities of Mr. Biden, as the then-vice president, and his son in Ukraine, as well as about U.S. diplomats in Ukraine. Documents turned over to Congress have since shown that Mr. Solomon was in close contact around the same time with Mr. Giuliani and his associates and indicate that Mr. Giuliani’s associates, including Mr. Parnas, were providing information to Mr. Solomon for his columns.
Mr. Solomon has denied coordinating with Mr. Giuliani and his associates. The Hill conducted a review last year that concluded his columns had “represented a departure from The Hill’s standard opinion content because they attempted to blend opinion and investigative, ‘original reporting’ material.” Mr. Solomon no longer works for The Hill.
Mr. Giuliani is the second lawyer who has represented Mr. Trump to be targeted with a search warrant by Manhattan federal investigators. In 2018, agents raided the hotel room, home and office of Michael Cohen, a former lawyer for Mr. Trump, in a probe that culminated with Mr. Cohen pleading guilty to charges including campaign-finance violations.
After that raid, lawyers for Mr. Cohen and Mr. Trump filed motions in federal court seeking a temporary restraining order on the Manhattan U.S. Attorney’s office, which led to a months-long process to review the seized materials for records and communications that might be protected by attorney-client privilege.
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