Manhattan federal prosecutors are seeking to examine Rudy Giuliani’s communications with a number of former Ukrainian officials, insiders said as investigators questioned whether the former Trump lawyer’s insistence on removing a U.S. diplomat in Kiev violated lobbying rules abroad.
The search warrants executed by federal investigators on Wednesday in Mr Giuliani’s apartment and office in New York were looking for evidence relating to Marie Jovanovic, a former US ambassador to Ukraine, whom Mr Giuliani pushed in the spring of 2019. as well as communications with any U.S. or U.S. government officials regarding the former ambassador or her position, people said.
Former President Donald Trump ordered the removal of Ms Jovanovic in the spring of 201
The orders also seek communication with or regarding associates who worked with Mr Giuliani to demand the removal of Ms Jovanovic and an investigation by Ukrainian authorities into the Biden family’s activities in the country, people familiar with the case said. warrants. At the time, President Biden was considered one of Mr Trump’s best democratic rivals.
The orders specifically seek evidence related to former Ukrainian prosecutors general Viktor Shokin and Yuriy Lutsenko, former Ukrainian prosecutor Konstantin Kulik and former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, people said.
Mr Giuliani has denied ever being a lobbyist or agent for a foreign government. The former mayor of New York was Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer when he insisted on Biden’s investigation and the removal of the ambassador.
“I haven’t wanted to lobby since I left the mayor,” Mr Giuliani told Fox News on Thursday night. “And I can prove it.” Just give me a chance. “
The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Manhattan has been investigating Mr. Giuliani’s work in Ukraine for more than a year, but the seizure of his personal electronic devices has escalated the investigation. Mr Giuliani’s efforts in Ukraine were at the center of Mr Trump’s first impeachment on charges that he had abused his power in seeking Ukraine’s help in his bid for the 2020 election. Mr Trump was impeachment by led by the Democratic Chamber and acquitted by the Republican-led Senate.
Mr Giuliani claims Mr Biden, as vice-president, was involved in corruption when he called for the removal of Mr Shokin, the then Ukrainian chief prosecutor, who was investigating a Ukrainian gas company where Mr Biden’s son Hunter Biden has served on the board. Bidens denied committing any wrongdoing, and the removal of the prosecutor was a goal in the United States and several European countries.
Federal prosecutors are pursuing a theory based on the idea that Mr Giuliani’s efforts to remove Ms Jovanovic were ordered by Ukrainian officials in exchange for damaging information about the candidacies, The Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday. Such an exchange, even if it does not involve a financial payment, could violate federal lobbying laws, the newspaper reported.
Mr Giuliani said Ms Jovanovic had been an obstacle to his efforts to urge Ukraine to investigate the candidacies and that she had shown bias against Trump in private.
As ambassador, Ms. Jovanovic openly criticized the cabinet of Mr. Lutsenko, then a senior law enforcement officer in Ukraine, for his poor anti-corruption experience. In early 2019, Mr. Lutsenko met twice with Mr. Giuliani and his associates to discuss possible investigations into the candidates. Mr. Lutsenko was removed from the Prosecutor General’s Office in August 2019.
In her testimony for the impeachment investigation in 2019, Ms. Jovanovic said that Mr. Lutsenko was spreading false allegations about her. “I do not understand Mr Giuliani’s motives for attacking me,” she said. “What I can say is that Mr Giuliani should have known that these allegations were suspected, reportedly coming from people with dubious motives, and with good reason to believe that their political and financial ambitions would be hampered by our anti-corruption policy in Ukraine. “
Mr Lutsenko later dropped his allegations about Ms Jovanovic and defended his anti-corruption actions as chief prosecutor. Mr Kulyk could not be reached for comment. Mr Shokin said he had been fired illegally.
In a statement, a spokesman for Mr Poroshenko said he and Mr Giuliani had discussed little but Russian aggression and strategic ties between the United States and Ukraine. “When he met with Poroshenko as president of Ukraine, Giuliani had never raised issues that are now under investigation by the United States,” the spokesman said. “Absolutely not.”
The order also seeks evidence relating to three associates of Giuliani who were arrested in 2019 on charges of financing the election campaign – Lev Parnassus, Igor Fruman and David Korea – as well as two lawyers close to Mr Giuliani. Victoria Tensing and Joseph DiGenova and conservative journalist John Solomon. On Wednesday, investigators carried out a search warrant for Ms. Toensing’s phone.
A spokeswoman for Ms Toensing’s law firm said she had been told it was not a goal. Mr diGenova declined to comment. Mr Solomon did not respond to a request for comment.
Messrs. Parnassus and Fruman helped Mr. Giuliani gather information about the candidacies and in private conversations advertised their role in removing Ms. Jovanovic, according to people in the United States and Ukraine who spoke to them at the time.
Messrs. Parnassus and Fruman were not charged in connection with Mr Giuliani’s efforts in Ukraine, although the charges against them related to their efforts to demand the removal of the ambassador.
Messrs. Parnassus and Fruman pleaded not guilty to campaign finance charges and are scheduled to stand trial later this year.
Mr Correia pleaded guilty last year and was sentenced in February to one year and one day in prison for lying to the federal electorate and for misleading investors in a fraud insurance company.
Some of Giuliani’s associates mentioned in the order have concluded financing agreements with some of the said Ukrainian officials.
In the spring of 2019, Ms. Toensing signed an agreement to represent Mr. Shokin to gather evidence related to his dismissal in March 2016 by his Attorney General and any role that Mr. Biden played as Vice President at his dismissal, according to documents received from impeachment investigators that year. Ms Toensing also signed contracts this spring to represent Mr Lutsenko and Mr Kulyk at meetings with US officials on alleged evidence of Ukrainian interference in the 2016 US elections, according to a report by impeachment investigators. .
Mr Giuliani told a newspaper in 2019 that Mr Lutsenko had asked him to represent him, but that he had rejected the case after drawing up detention agreements for a total of about $ 500,000.
Earlier this week, Robert Costello, Giuliani’s lawyer, described the execution of the search warrant as “legal fraud”, and Mr Giuliani complained that the seized electronics contained communications protected by the privilege of a client lawyer.
Mr Giuliani and his advisers are now developing a strategy on how to respond, considering whether to file a lawsuit or ask a judge to review the confiscated privilege notices, according to someone familiar with the discussions. The team also contacted representatives of Mr Trump, whose communications with his lawyer could be seized on Wednesday as to whether he would sign a case, the person said.
Mr Giuliani also turned to constitutional law professor Alan Dershovitz, who represented Mr Trump during their first impeachment, for legal advice.
Mr Dershowitz said in an interview that the execution of a search warrant against a lawyer was a violation of the Fourth Amendment, which prohibits “unreasonable searches and seizures” and said that he had advised Mr Giuliani and his lawyer to “take all constitutional means to Protection”. including requesting a judge to review the seized materials.
Mr Dershowitz, whose advice to Mr Giuliani was first reported by the Daily Beast, said he was not an official member of Mr Giuliani’s legal team.
“He will fight back,” he said. “Rudy is a fighter.”
“Brett Forest contributed to this article.”
Write to Rebecca Bolhaus at Rebecca.Ballhaus@wsj.com and Rebecca Davis O’Brien at Rebecca.OBrien@wsj.com
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