Career federal prosecutors in Manhattan tried repeatedly last year to get permission to search Rudy Giuliani’s electronic records, and each time they were turned down by senior officials in the Justice Department, CNN, The Washington Post, and The New York Times reported Wednesday. The Justice Department officials, appointed by former President Donald Trump, reportedly listed several reasons, including the dicey issues involved in getting a search warrant for the sitting president’s personal attorney.
Giuliani has been under investigation since 2019, when two of his associates, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, were arrested on campaign finance charges. By summer 2020, prosecutors in Manhattan believed they had probable cause for a warrant to search through Giuliani’s communications, relatively certain they would find evidence of a crime, the Post and the Times report. Getting search warrants for a lawyer, much less the president’s lawyers, required permission from Washington. The Trump appointees turned the down, the Post reports, offering “varying explanations as to why.”
“While career Justice Department officials in Washington largely supported the search warrant, senior officials raised concerns that the warrant would be issued too close to the election,” within the 60-day window blocked off against potentially election-shaping activity, the Times reports. “The Manhattan prosecutors noted to officials in Washington that they initially raised the idea in the summer, before the 60-day cutoff,” but they tried again after the election — and were again turned down. Officials in the deputy attorney general’s office reportedly argued that Trump — and Giuliani — were still contesting Trump’s loss to President Biden.
Career Justice Department officials “noted that even amid Trump’s post-election challenges, department leaders approved issuing a subpoena and taking other steps in another politically sensitive investigation: that of Biden’s son Hunter,” the Post reports.
“Ultimately, senior officials in Washington proposed delaying a decision on the subpoena until the Biden administration took over,” the Times reports. “It is unclear whether the prosecutors have obtained a warrant since Mr. Biden was sworn in.” The Justice Department and Manhattan U.S. attorney’s office declined to comment on the reports, and Giuliani lawyer Robert Costello told CNN there has been no outreach from federal prosecutors and told the Times he won’t comment “on media speculation.” Peter Weber