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Federal Investigators Search Rudy Giuliani's Manhattan Apartment

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

And we turn now to news out of New York City, where FBI agents searched Rudy Giuliani's apartment this morning - Giuliani, the former mayor of the city who became President Donald Trump's personal attorney. NPR justice correspondent Ryan Lucas joins me now.

Hey, Ryan.

RYAN LUCAS, BYLINE: Hi there.

KELLY: OK, details on this raid. What happened?

LUCAS: Well, Giuliani's attorney, Robert Costello, told me that about a half-dozen FBI agents showed up early this morning around 6:00 a.m. at Giuliani's apartment in Manhattan. We actually interviewed the former mayor there last year. It's a big, spacious corner apartment in an old building on Manhattan's Upper East Side. Giuliani was there this morning when the agents showed up.

Costello says the feds seized Giuliani's electronic devices - so things like his phone, his iPad. And this is a big deal. It's a big deal because searching and seizing any attorney's materials is a highly sensitive thing for the Justice Department because of attorney-client privilege issues. But it's an even bigger deal when it's Rudy Giuliani, the former U.S. attorney for Manhattan and the personal attorney for former President Trump.

KELLY: What are the feds looking for?

LUCAS: We've known for a long time that federal investigators in New York were investigating Giuliani's business dealings and activities tied to Ukraine. That probe went quiet for a while last year, but this search warrant makes clear that this is now very much an active investigation. Costello, Giuliani's attorney, says the search warrant indicates that the feds are looking at possible violations of foreign lobbying laws related to Giuliani's Ukraine work.

He said investigators are seeking Giuliani's communications with people he may have worked with on Ukraine stuff - that includes Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, two Giuliani associates who were indicted in 2019 on campaign finance violations and false statements. They also played a key role helping Giuliani try to dig up derogatory information in Ukraine about Joe Biden. Costello said the feds are also seeking Giuliani's communications with John Solomon. Now, Solomon is a columnist who helped amplify Giuliani's claims about Ukraine. And Giuliani, of course, was a central figure in the Ukraine scandal and President Trump's first impeachment.

KELLY: Indeed. Well, what's Giuliani saying? Has he reacted yet?

LUCAS: There has been no word at this point from Giuliani, no. He normally has a radio show in the afternoon in New York. That didn't happen today, so we haven't heard from him. But Costello, his lawyer, argued that this move by the FBI, this search warrant, was entirely unnecessary. He told me that he twice offered to the U.S. attorney's office in the Southern District of New York to sit down with prosecutors and answer any questions they might have if they told him the subject matter. He said the U.S. attorney's office twice refused. And Costello asserted again today in my conversation with him that Giuliani has done nothing wrong.

KELLY: Just to step back for a minute, Ryan. Fair to say, I think, Giuliani's reputation has taken some hits these last few years, including due to his Ukraine work. What is - what are the chances that this federal investigation will further tarnish his legacy?

LUCAS: I think you're right that, yes, Giuliani's reputation has taken a hit in the past year or two. We've talked about his role in the Ukraine scandal and Trump's first impeachment. He pushed Trump's falsehoods about the 2020 election being stolen. He orchestrated many of the attempts to overturn the results. Now, this criminal investigation by the very office that he once led in the 1980s is another blow to his reputation. But remember - he hasn't been charged at this point, and he has repeatedly stated that he did nothing wrong. But in my conversations with former prosecutors, they say a search warrant is a significant step, and it suggests that the investigation into Giuliani and his activities is well-advanced.

KELLY: Thank you, Ryan.

LUCAS: Thank you.

KELLY: NPR's Ryan Lucas. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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