Feds Search Rudy Giuliani's Apartment The former New York City mayor has been under investigation for years by federal authorities, who have been looking into his business dealings in Ukraine.

Federal Investigators Search Rudy Giuliani's Apartment Over Ukraine Ties

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/882060850/991880692" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript


Rudolph Giuliani has worn many hats over his decades in public life - federal prosecutor, mayor of New York City, presidential candidate, President Trump's personal attorney. And now he's facing possible legal trouble after FBI agents executed a search warrant yesterday at his Manhattan apartment and office. NPR justice correspondent Ryan Lucas has covered Giuliani for years and is on the line. Ryan, good morning.

RYAN LUCAS, BYLINE: Good morning.

INSKEEP: So what are the investigators doing?

LUCAS: Well, we've known for a while that investigators in New York were probing Giuliani's business dealings and his work related to Ukraine. And now that's taken a significant step forward with this search warrant, which around a half-dozen FBI agents executed early yesterday at Giuliani's apartment and Upper East Side, Manhattan, office as well. Giuliani's lawyer, Robert Costello, told me the agents took Giuliani's electronic devices. Costello said the search warrants indicate that investigators are looking into possible violations of foreign lobbying laws related to Giuliani's Ukraine work. Giuliani, of course, had business dealings in Ukraine going back many years. But he famously played a central role in the Ukraine scandal that led to President Trump's first impeachment.

INSKEEP: Yeah. And so now they've executed these search warrants and not only on him, right? There's an associate that has also been a target here?

LUCAS: That's right. The lawyer - it's a lawyer that Giuliani worked with on Ukraine matters. Her name is Victoria Toensing. Our colleague Carrie Johnson has learned that two agents from New York showed up at Toensing's house outside Washington with a warrant for her cellphone, which she handed over. The warrant mentioned foreign lobbying violations. Toensing's law firm put out a statement which said that Toensing is not the target of this investigation. But as you said, Toensing did collaborate with Giuliani on his Ukraine claims. You may remember two of Giuliani's associates, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, who were indicted in 2019 on campaign finance and other charges. They helped Giuliani try to gather damaging information in Ukraine about Joe Biden. Parnas also worked with Victoria Toensing. Now, Giuliani's lawyer told me that investigators are seeking Giuliani's communications with Parnas and Fruman and others. One of those others is John Solomon, who is a columnist who helped amplify Giuliani's Ukraine claims.

INSKEEP: Giuliani's lawyer and his son have complained about this treatment because he is a lawyer. Is it unusual for prosecutors to execute a search warrant on a lawyer?

LUCAS: It's unusual. But it's not unheard of for investigators to do this. Something like this normally requires approval from senior officials at the Justice Department because of concerns about attorney-client privilege. It's obviously a huge deal when the attorney worked for the former president of the United States. But remember, a federal judge has to sign off on a search warrant like this as well. So that means investigators were able to convince a federal judge that a crime was likely committed and that there would be evidence of it in this specific location. All of this suggests, former prosecutors tell me, that this investigation is pretty far along.

INSKEEP: What's Giuliani himself saying? He's normally quite talkative.

LUCAS: He is normally quite talkative. He has not said anything. He tweeted out a statement from his attorney late last night, but that's it. His son, Andrew, as you mentioned, has talked about this. He talked briefly with reporters on his way into his father's building. He said it was absurd, it was disgusting. He said if it can happen to the former president's lawyer, it can happen to anybody. It's important to say that Giuliani hasn't been charged with a crime at this point. I've spoken with him in the past about his foreign lobbying. He said he always followed the law. His lawyer told me the same yesterday. Nevertheless, this is a remarkable change of fortune for Giuliani. He was America's mayor after 9/11. He was deeply involved in some of President Trump's controversies, including, of course, perpetuating the falsehood that Trump lost the election to Biden because of fraud. But some people may forget that he was a hard-charging U.S. attorney in Manhattan in the 1980s. And now he's being investigated by that very same office he once led.

INSKEEP: Ryan, thanks.

LUCAS: Thank you.

INSKEEP: NPR's Ryan Lucas.

Copyright © 2021 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.