Search warrants executed this week at Rudy Giuliani’s New York City apartment and office are part of an investigation looking into whether the former Trump lawyer was involved in any efforts to oust former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch after he advocated for her removal in 2019.
Two sources familiar with the matter confirmed to NBC News that federal investigators seized Giuliani’s electronic devices on Wednesday to see whether they contain any evidence showing efforts to oust Yovanovitch and whether they potentially violate the Foreign Agents Registration Act, requiring the disclosure of certain political activities or interests.
The investigation of a possible Giuliani link to efforts against Yovanovitch was first reported in the Wall Street Journal.
Investigators are specifically looking into communications between Giuliani and former Ukrainian prosecutors Viktor Shokin, Yuriy Lutsenko, and Kostiantyn Kulyk as well as former Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko, one of the sources told NBC News.
Some of the other individuals identified in search warrants as people with whom Giuliani may have been in contact regarding Yovanovitch include Lev Parnas, Igor Fruman, and David Correia, all associates of the former New York City mayor, as well as attorneys Victoria Toensing and Joe DiGenova and journalist John Solomon, according to one of the sources.
Yovanovitch was one of the key witnesses to testify in the House’s first impeachment inquiry into former President Donald Trump, telling Congress that she was subjected to a smear campaign based on lies that led to her abrupt removal last year.
A source familiar with the matter also said that federal investigators have already acted on warrants for Giuliani’s electronics in his home and office, including his secretary’s computer, and another one for Toensing’s electronics.
Toensing’s law firm previously said in a statement that she “has always conducted herself and her law practice according to the highest legal and ethical standards.”
“She would have been happy to turn over any relevant documents,” the statement continued. “All they had to do was ask. Ms. Toensing was informed that she is NOT a target of the investigation.”
During a phone call Friday night, Giuliani’s lawyer Robert Costello called the search warrants “legal thuggery.” He also said he spoke with Alan Dershowitz, a lawyer known for his work in U.S. constitutional law, about possible constitutional issues related to the Giuliani search warrants.
According to Costello, Giuliani has offered to answer questions from federal prosecutors multiple times as long as the subject matter was provided in advance and would not violate attorney-client or executive privilege.
Costello also reiterated that Giuliani did not do any lobbying for any foreign officials, but spoke out publicly against Yovanovitch because, in Giuliani’s view, she was undermining Trump. He emphasized, yet again, that the FBI did not seize drives Giuliani identified as Hunter Biden’s, son of President Joe Biden.
Giuliani was a key figure in the events that led to Trump’s first impeachment, relying on Ukrainian officials and members of their parliament to try to dig up dirt about Joe Biden as he ran for president.
Democrats said there was overwhelming evidence that Trump had abused his power by pressuring Ukraine to announce investigations into Biden and his son Hunter while withholding almost $400 million in aid. They also said Trump obstructed Congress by refusing to release any documents related to his actions.