Early Wednesday morning, agents with the Federal Bureau of Investigation raided the New York City office and apartment home of the former New York mayor and personal lawyer for former President Donald Trump, 76-year-old Rudolph Giuliani.
The aggressive raid on Giuliani’s workplace and residence by federal agents, a tactic usually reserved for Mafia bosses and supposed terrorists, is highly unusual for any former government official. It is especially so for Giuliani, who as US Attorney for the Southern District of New York from 1983 to 1989 was in charge of the same office that is now investigating him.
The raid has generated a firestorm of coverage in the corporate press, demonstrating that nearly four months after Trump’s attempted coup, divisions within the ruling class remain at a fever pitch.
According to “three people with knowledge of the investigation,” reported the New York Times, the raid is part of the criminal investigation into Giuliani’s affairs in Ukraine, specifically concerning Giuliani’s attempts in 2019 to pressure the Ukrainian government into investigating Joe Biden and unearth political dirt regarding Biden and his son Hunter’s affairs in the country.
The Wall Street Journal reported that Giuliani has been under investigation since at least 2019 by the US Attorney’s office in New York and by the FBI for business dealings in Ukraine that could violate federal lobbying laws.
The delay in carrying out the warrants, according to reporting from the Associated Press and the Times, was due to intransigence within the upper echelons of the Trump administration Justice Department. Both the AP and the Times claimed that high-level officials within the department would not approve the warrants based on fears that privileged communications between Giuliani and Trump would be revealed. The appointment and subsequent confirmation of Biden nominee Merrick Garland as attorney general last month cleared the way for the warrants to be executed.
Giuliani’s activities in dealing with Ukraine were at the center of the first impeachment trial of Trump, who was impeached by the House but acquitted in the Senate in a near party-line vote. Giuliani is head of a consulting firm, Giuliani Partners, which sells access to Giuliani and the upper echelon of the Republican party to several clients, including some in Ukraine.
The Times reported that during the raid federal investigators seized “cellphones and other electronic devices” from Giuliani’s home and office. A statement released through Giuliani’s lawyer, Robert Costello, claims the electronic devices are “replete with material covered by the attorney-client privilege and other constitutional privileges.” Costello told the Wall Street Journal that the investigation into Giuliani involved a “possible violation of foreign-lobbying rules.”
It was also reported that a search warrant was executed at the Washington D.C. home of long-time Republican lawyer Victoria Toensing, a former top official in the Department of Justice and Giuliani associate. The Wall Street Journal reported that Toensing turned over her cell phone to the agents, but her home was not searched.
Toensing’s law firm released a statement saying she was not the target of the investigation and that Toensing, “would have been happy to turn over any relevant documents. All they had to do was ask.”
Toensing is the wife of former Reagan administration lawyer and Trump attorney Joe diGenova, who last year called for the execution of former director of Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency Chris Krebs. Krebs had recently been fired by Trump after he refused to give support to Trump’s fascistic lies about a “stolen” election, declaring there was no electronic or cyber manipulation of the vote.
Toensing has previously represented Erik Prince, the founder of notorious mercenary outfit Blackwater and brother of former Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. Prince served as an “informal campaign adviser” to Trump.
Giuliani denied any wrongdoing in his statement and claimed that the search warrants revealed a “corrupt double standard” by the Justice Department, which he claimed ignored “blatant crimes” by Democrats Hillary Clinton and Biden.
Giuliani claimed that the FBI “steadfastly declined” to take alleged copies of Hunter Biden’s computer drives that he claimed to be in possession of, even though he “offered them on several occasions.” He added that the attack was aimed at undermining “the constitutional rights of anyone involved in, or legally defending, former President Donald J. Trump.”
While Giuliani has yet to be charged, the fact the agents executed a warrant on his home and workplace demonstrates that a judge thought enough evidence existed of a possible crime to authorize the warrant in the first place.
A similar raid took place three years ago against Trump’s former personal lawyer and “fixer” Michael Cohen, who was subsequently charged and sent to prison for three years after pleading guilty to campaign finance violations, tax fraud, bank fraud and for lying to a Senate committee. Cohen spent roughly a year in prison before being released to home confinement last July.
Claims of “outrageous” and “unconstitutional” treatment at the hands of federal agents are ironic coming from the former mayor of New York City. As mayor from 1994 to 2001, Giuliani defended brutal police killings and promoted “zero tolerance” law enforcement tactics that ran roughshod over the democratic rights of the city’s working-class and minority residents.
While reports of the FBI investigation suggest that it is centered on Giuliani’s alleged activities in regard to Ukraine, he played an integral part in the attempted fascist coup of January 6.
In the months following Trump’s electoral defeat, Giuliani appeared at multiple state election board hearings to lobby on behalf of Trump and his fraudulent claims. In many instances he was joined by people who later participated in the storming of the Capitol, including the notorious “QAnon shaman” who was photographed wearing a horned helmet with his face daubed in paint as he strode through the building.
Giuliani was one of the featured speakers at Trump’s rally in front of the White House on the day of the attack on Congress. During his speech he incited the crowd to violence, urging them, “Let’s have trial by combat.”