US agents searched the Manhattan apartment and office of Rudy Giuliani on Wednesday, as the federal probe into the trusted lawyer of former President Donald Trump intensifies. The search is part of criminal investigation that has been going on for more than two years, Giuliani's aide said.
While Giuliani's cellphones were seized in the raid, the prosecutors also took away the work computer of Jo Ann Zafonte, Giuliani's longtime assistant. The search was in connection with a charge that the 76-year-old lawyer and former New York Mayor had failed to register as a foreign agent, which is a violation of lobbying laws.
Giuliani's attorney Bob Costello said the search was politically motivated. "Mayor Giuliani has not only denied this allegation, but offered twice in the past two years through his attorney Bob Costello to demonstrate that it is entirely untrue ... Twice the offer was rejected," the attorney's statement said.
Giuliani was a center point in the controversies surrounding President Trump in the final months of his term even as he served as the personal lawyer of Trump. He was also in the focus of a probe into his activities in Ukraine. Giuliani had taken war into President Joe Biden's camp by digging up dirt on his son son Beau Biden's activities in Ukraine.
The federal prosecutors also executed a search warrant at the home of Victoria Toensing, a Giuliani all. Toensing is also a lawyer, and it was clarified that while the house wasn't searched, a a phone was handed over when agents arrived there, according to CNN.
Giuliani's Ukraine Probe
"Ms. Toensing is a former federal prosecutor and senior Justice Department official. 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. All they had to do was ask. Ms. Toensing was informed that she is not a target of the investigation," Toensing's spokesperson said in a statement.
Toensing and her husband, Joseph diGenova were involved in Giuliani's Ukraine probe. They had agreed to work with Ukrainian investigators in their effort to collect information about Biden's ties with Kiev when was Barack Obama's vice president.
Meanwhile, Giuliani's son Andrew condemned the Department of Justice. If this can happen to the former president's lawyer, this could happen to any American, he said. "This is absolutely absurd and it's the continued politicization of the Justice Department that we have seen," he added.
"All I will say is this: To all Americans out there, our Justice Department should be independent on politics. Enough is enough, ladies and gentlemen ... We cannot stand for this anymore."
White House Comments
A spokesman for US Attorney Audrey Strauss in Manhattan did not comment when the media approached him. Meanwhile, White House official said the Justice Department had not intimated it on the warrants.
"This President has said that he wanted the Justice Department to be completely independent. They are ... And so we don't interfere with them, and we don't comment on what they do. We are very mindful that the people in this country have to have full trust in the Department of Justice, and the President is not going to put his thumb on the scale or comment about any investigation, and the investigations should just take their course without political interference," said White House senior adviser Cedric Richmond.