Federal agents executed a search warrant at the New York City apartment of Rudy Giuliani on Wednesday morning to seize electronic devices and collect evidence in connection to an ongoing Department of Justice (DOJ) criminal investigation, according to The New York Times.
While the search warrant does not reflect that Giuliani is guilty of any crime, it shows that investigators have taken the probe to an "aggressive new phase", the Times noted. Executing a search warrant is an extraordinary move for prosecutors to take against a lawyer, let alone a lawyer for a former president, and it marks a major turning point in the long-running probe.
Mr Giuliani and a spokesman for Mr Trump did not immediately respond to media requests for comment.
Paraphrasing Costello's words, the report went on to say that "the warrant sought communications between Mr. Giuliani and individuals including John Solomon, a columnist who was in communication with Mr. Giuliani about his effort to push for investigations of Joe Biden in Ukraine". Giuliani served as Trump's main lawyer alleging Biden's win was due to widespread voter fraud.More news: India virus patients suffocate amid oxygen shortage in surge
News of the search was first reported by the New York Times.
The New York Times reported that DOJ agents requested permission to raid Giuliani's Manhattan residence for communications and records previous year, but were denied by senior political officials in the Trump administration.
The search warrant is a sign that the criminal investigation is ramping up into his dealings in Ukraine, including whether he violated the Foreign Agents Registration Act, which states that agents representing the interests of foreign powers in a political capacity must disclose their relationship to the US Justice Department.
The full scope of the investigation is unclear, but it at least partly involves Rudy Giuliani's dealings in Ukraine, law enforcement officials have confirmed.More news: Fire tears through Baghdad COVID hospital
Agents searched Giuliani's home on Madison Ave and his office on Park Ave, people familiar with the investigation told the Associated Press.
The two businessmen, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, were arrested and indicted in October 2019 as part of what the government said was a "foreign national donor scheme" that allegedly sought to funnel foreign money to American political candidates. "This means Mr. Giuliani is in serious trouble".
Prosecutors are seeking to determine whether Giuliani illegally lobbied the Trump administration on behalf of powerful Ukrainians while he was seeking dirt on Biden and his son, Hunter, the law enforcement official said.
Giuliani also played a key role in amplifying falsehoods about the 2020 election and orchestrated many of Trump's attempts to overturn the results. The lawyer said Giuliani kept talking, apparently unaware that he had not hung up, and said his phone number was "soon to be gotten rid of". The US Attorney's office in Manhattan and the FBI's NY office declined to comment Wednesday.More news: Biden set to declare atrocities committed against Armenia were genocide
He later won wide acclaim as "America's Mayor" for his efforts in helping New York City recover from the September 11, 2001 attacks.