Rudy Giuliani appears to be in a bit of legal trouble. Maybe even a lot of it.
On Wednesday morning, investigators executed a search warrant on the Manhattan apartment of the former New York City mayor and chief legal henchman for former President Donald Trump, The New York Times reported. The raid, which included the seizure of Giuliani’s electronic devices, pertains to a long-running investigation into his ties to Ukraine, and whether he illegally lobbied the Trump administration on behalf of his connections in the European nation.
Specifically, authorities have been investigating the role Giuliani may have played in convincing Trump to oust Marie Yovanovich from her position as U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, possibly at the behest of Ukrainian figures who believed she was threatening their personal interests. Yovanovich may have also been getting in the way of Giuliani’s efforts to use U.S. foreign policy to build a political case against then presidential candidate Joe Biden. Trump abruptly removed Yovanovich from her post in May 2019, and her ouster was a key part is the congressional investigation that ultimately led to Trump’s first impeachment that December.
Giuliani has denied any wrongdoing, and his lawyer, Robert Costello, described the raid on Wednesday as “legal thuggery.”
“Why would you do this to anyone, let alone someone who was the associate attorney general, United States attorney, the mayor of New York City and the personal lawyer to the 45th president of the United States,” Costello told the Times.
Investigators don’t appear to share Costello’s belief that Giuliani’s resume should afford him special treatment, and the raid on Wednesday signals the inquiry into Giuliani is getting serious. As the Times notes, in order to obtain a search warrant like the one carried out Wednesday, investigators would have had to convince a judge that a raid would turn up evidence that Giuliani committed a crime.
Incredibly, federal authorities executing search warrants on the former president’s legal muscle is nothing new. In April 2018, the FBI raided the office and hotel room of Trump’s former legal counsel Michael Cohen. Cohen was later sentenced to three years in prison for crimes related to paying off women who allegedly had affairs with Trump prior to the 2016 campaign.
Trump defended Giuliani on Thursday morning while speaking by phone to Fox Business. “You know, Rudy Giuliani is a great patriot,” Trump said. “He does these things, he just loves this country and they raid his apartment, it’s, like, so unfair … I don’t know what they’re looking for, what they’re doing.”
This post has been updated.