Rudy Giuliani’s Going To Go Through Some Things

The NYT is breaking the news that Rudy Giuliani’s home was searched this morning and his devices seized.

Federal investigators in Manhattan executed a search warrant on Wednesday at the Upper East Side apartment of Rudolph W. Giuliani, the former New York City mayor who became President Donald J. Trump’s personal lawyer, stepping up a criminal investigation into Mr. Giuliani’s dealings in Ukraine, three people with knowledge of the matter said.

One of the people said the investigators had seized Mr. Giuliani’s electronic devices.

The story explains that this arises out of the investigation into Rudy’s foreign influence peddling with Ukraine.

The federal authorities have been largely focused on whether Mr. Giuliani illegally lobbied the Trump administration in 2019 on behalf of Ukrainian officials and oligarchs, who at the same time were helping Mr. Giuliani search for dirt on Mr. Trump’s political rivals, including President Biden, who was then a leading candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination.

The NYT doesn’t mention that several of these Ukrainians have since been sanctioned by Treasury as Russian agents.

But once they get Rudy’s phones, there’s the possibility they’ll find evidence of all Rudy’s other crimes. For example, in January, Rudy was in contact with James Sullivan, who is the brother of accused January 6 insurrectionist John Sullivan and who himself has ties to the Proud Boys.

This is a lot of information exchange (and a good degree of familiarity) with someone so closely tied to an attack on the Capitol.

So who knows? It might all coalesce: Rudy’s work for Russian Agents in Ukraine to undermine democracy, paving the way for a violent attack on the Capitol.

Update: They searched Victoria Toensing’s home too.

F.B.I. agents on Wednesday morning also executed a search warrant at the Washington-area home of Victoria Toensing, a lawyer close to Mr. Giuliani who had dealings with several Ukrainians involved in the effort to find damaging information about the Bidens, according to people with knowledge of that search. Ms. Toensing has represented Dmitry Firtash, a Ukrainian oligarch under indictment in the United States whose help Mr. Giuliani sought.

Update: Fixed the timing of the search. h/t JM.

133 replies
  1. Thomas says:

    Surely, with nine months of advance warning, he moved any incriminating evidence from his apartment. Possibly by printing it all out and then shredding it.

  2. John Paul Jones says:

    Wouldn’t they have to seek a second warrant to look at other things on his electronic devices than material related to the lobbying search? Will they have to use a special master to review the information first?

    • subtropolis says:

      A special master to determine what could arguably be privileged, perhaps. Any shopping mall upskirt photos they happen upon would be fair game, I’d think.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Presumably, a “clean team” will have to review the information so as to keep privileged information from being given to investigators. But if information that’s not privileged – or whose privilege can be challenged under, say, the crime-fraud exception – provides evidence of a crime, I’m pretty sure the feds can act on it.

      • Robot17 says:

        Curious. Won’t most of the data reveal destroying evidence rather than provide information of underlying crimes? I’d have to imagine that he was warned not only by the previous DoJ but also from sympathetic agents in the FBI. Possibly the same ones providing him with information re Hillary’s emails? Either way it’s basic tech now to be able to wipe drives and I’m sure Rudy has enough friends/conspirators that could even if he isn’t capable. It seems the real threat to him is NOT having certain communications or data that he SHOULD have unless he’s destroyed them. Does that make sense in a real-life investigation or prosecution?

        • David Smith says:

          I wonder if a phone has some kind of electronic “signature” which identifies it as the device used to send a text, make a call, send an email, etc.

          So, if the feds show that a phone in Rudy’s possession was used to send an incriminating text, and they have the content of the text from some other source, then they have a firmer link to Giuliani.

    • emptywheel says:

      Yes. Assuming that you can separate out when the work for Ukrainian Russian agents from the push of Hunter Biden’s laptop from the efforts to steal the election.

      • AndTheSlithyToves says:

        A target-rich environment! (Or, alternatively, so many conspiracies, so little time!)

    • Rugger9 says:

      Not really beyond what EOH already noted. Once probable cause for a search is granted, then any loose strings seen in the search can be pulled. While there may be privileged information, and I have no doubt Rudy will claim everything is privileged, I’m not sure he can show any contract where he represents DJT, for example.

      As for opsec, Rudy isn’t the most detail oriented guy, recalling the Four Seasons fiasco. I have no doubt there will be plenty of loose ends to pull by investigators and given how many things Rudy was involved in I would think only Roger Stone’s comms would be more damaging to DJT and his minions.

      That would include Victoria and Devin Nunes who could be in some real trouble here if there is a string or two, perhaps to the “midnight runs” to DJT.

  3. drouse says:

    Since so much of what Rudy was doing was right out in the open, backed by a bunch of public statements that to me seemed self-incriminating, the illegal lobbying doesn’t seem like such a stretch. However, he along with Roger Stone are the two most plausible conduits into the White House concerning coordination with the P.B.s, Oath Keepers ect. and I can’t see Rudy being tech savvy enough shield any info on his devices. I will make a prediction though. If Rudy is indicted, his defense will revolve around diminished capacity.

  4. earlofhuntingdon says:

    EW notes that the warrant specifically asked for communications with Politico’s John Solomon.

    Separately, she notes that Rudy imagined he was as invulnerable to prosecution as his supposed former client, the orange whatsit, which would have made his opsec shitty. So, yea, the feds might find evidence of illegal conduct that a smarter thug would never have created or left on digital devices.

    • BobCon says:

      I would bust a gut laughing if Ken Vogel got caught up in this. It’s astonishing how the Times hasn’t transferred him to Tallahassee or Kalamazoo after he was such a transparent conduit for Giuliani’s campaign in 2019 and was cheerleading for it even after the whistleblower’s existence was revealed.

      I’m glad to see his name wasn’t on the byline for this article at least.

      • Eureka says:

        But BobCon, didn’t you know that Vogel was entirely, uh, de-vanquished by Treasury’s reveal that Kilimnik gave the polling data to RU intelligence?

        Elide, elide, elide [skip intervening details], sure — but that pinned tweet isn’t holding itself up there!

        ETA: oh gosh, went to grab it and find he is rt-ing hate-tweets. Guarantees he stays in NY:

        • BobCon says:

          The Times has suspended reporters for saying less on Twitter, but some people seem to slide.

          But whatever, let reporters tweet. The real issue, as replies noted on that thread, is that he’s injecting advocacy into his articles and it’s tainting what the Times prints. They’d better wake up that they have another Solomon and Miller on their hands.

  5. FiestyBlueBird says:

    Good God I love your work, Marcy. Usually it is for the in depth writing. This time, it is the headline alone. Brilliantly appropriate.

    In my book, you’ll never top “Big Dick Toilets and Sasquatch Dolls,” but this one deserves an Honorable Mention nomination at the least, as well as one new modest Patreon contributor to emptywheel. That would be me.

    I feel happy as ole Jack Johnson on the States’ side pier jumping up and down doing the Eagle Rock after finding that wet roach attached to the blue soggy mess that said U.S.S. Titanic after he’d been denied passage (“This ship don’t haul no coal.”) (old Jaime Brockett song, if unfamiliar with the reference.)

    Thank you.

    • emptywheel says:

      My best title ever–and on this I think even bmaz will be docile–is “Sweet Judy Blew Lies” about Judy Miller’s interview with Pat Fitzgerald.

  6. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Rudy’s lawyer calls executing the search warrant, “legal thuggery” – something Rudy knows a lot about – and asks why would you do this to a former USA, asst. AG, and lawyer for the president? My two word answer: John Mitchell. Alternatively, Spiro Agnew, or, if you prefer, Alger Hiss.

    • What Constitution? says:

      Adding to this wish list: Bill Barr. Joanna Hendon, This is too much fun. I love the smell of Trump lawyers sweating. Smells like Justice..

      • Rugger9 says:

        It will be interesting to see how Bill Barr decides to cover his arse for his time as AG and the repeated interference in investigations of Trumpworld. I see punaise’s comment below including Preet Bharara’s observation about how this spiking may have prevented DJT from pardoning Giuliani (but weren’t there super duper secret pocket pardons issued by DJT?).

        Barr will try to excuse his conduct, but as we saw over time, he was not very good at fooling anyone and left loose ends in his explanations. Those might become very useful.

  7. Alan Charbonneau says:

    This story brings a smile to my face. Rudy’s OpSec probably consisted of wrapping his phone in aluminum foil

    I also love the Update: “They searched Victoria Toensing’s home too.”

    Oh, please let them both rot in prison!

  8. harpie says:

    oh, TOENSING too?
    Remember when Rudy wrote a letter to Zelensky, asking for a meeting, and said he’s bringing his distinguished colleague along?

    That was 5/10/19.
    That was also, the DAY AFTER Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch was called back to DC.

    […] However, I have a more specific request. In my capacity as personal counsel to President Trump and with his knowledge and consent, I request a meeting with you on this upcoming Monday, May 13th or Tuesday, May 14h. I will need no more than a half-hour of your time and I will be accompanied by my own colleague Victoria Toensing, a distinguished American attorney who is very familiar with this matter. […]

    2:18 PM – 14 Jan 2020
    2] Defying White House, ambassador explains public service to a corrupt president
    Greg Sargent 10/11/19

    • Rugger9 says:

      I think this might be one of the strings (January 6th being another) that ties directly to DJT since Giuliani claimed to be DJT’s emissary. Vicki T’s communications on the trip will add some context as well but I’m not sure why she would be going to the Ukraine in the first place.

      • P J Evans says:

        Sending *personal lawyers* for something like that makes four-day-old dead fish smell like roses.

    • Frank Probst says:

      The whole Marie Yovanovitch craziness has always intrigued me. It’s like Trump’s people just assumed that they had to break the rules to get something done. They didn’t even bother to check to see what the rules are. Any reasonably competent team would have just recalled the ambassador, thanked her for her service, and explained that the President preferred to have someone else in that position. No one would have cared. There was never a need for the elaborate plan to (try to) sabotage her reputation.

      • ducktree says:

        The phrase “by the seat of their pants” comes to mind as this gang’s overarching modus operandi. They wanted what they wanted, and they wanted it done yesterday.

      • Lady4Real says:

        My impression of the Marie Yovanovich recall was she was a well educated, powerful WOMAN and they (trump) wanted to knock her down a peg just for her intelligent womanhood. He’s vindictive that way. Remember, ‘she’s going to go through some things’. This was after the other powerful lady (reporter, I think) was murdered with acid to her face? Trump loved that story.

        • Frank Probst says:

          I agree that this was definitely a part of it, but still, this was a lot of effort by number of powerful men to try to smear the reputation of a powerful woman. Why bother? Just recall her. Have Trump say that she was a horrible ambassador. Have Mike Pompeo put her in an office in a sub-basement at Foggy Bottom. They didn’t need to come up with a plan that was more confusing and more time-consuming than a movie about a back heist.

  9. Matthew Harris says:

    One thing that I am constantly intrigued by is the different time scales of the media (and the populace), and federal law enforcement.

    It is totally understandable, but in the news media, if nothing has happened for three days, the story fades away. I haven’t read any stories about Matt Gaetz for a week. I haven’t heard about Andrew Cuomo’s legal problems for…a few weeks?

    But all those things are still going on. The FBI has a very long memory.

    Trump has been (pleasantly) silent since leaving office, and there is already a narrative coalescing, I feel, that he might just slowly fade away. But there could still be very intensive investigations into him, and his own compound could be raided tomorrow. We just don’t know. But my own feeling is…there is going to be many cases for a while. The Department of Justice isn’t just going to forget everything.

    • Eureka says:

      You apparently didn’t dip out of the soundproof booth enough to hear that Trump’s been plenty loud lately, stoking the Big Lie while his affiliated nutjobs “audit” molest the Maricopa Co. AZ ballots looking to overturn the election. His followers believe he’ll be reinstalled.

      • Matthew Harris says:

        I actually only read news online, I don’t watch it on television, and I don’t use social media. So there is a good chance that I am missing out on the more shrill and dramatic parts of things in the news media.

        • Eureka says:

          Thanks to the deplatformings his screeds are far from prominent, and can be vaguely, occasionally monitored for changes in pitch and volume from afar or derivatively. Which I do because I think it’s a luxury to stay oblivious to him and his “movement”, all things considered.

    • P J Evans says:

      He’s unhappy that he isn’t seeing himself on TV enough.

      Put in cams in his residences, linked to screens in his “offices” and his former-tweeting-rooms.

  10. Fran of the North says:

    I wonder how many electronic devices are being purged today? I’m sure this news item has sphincters spasming in all corners of Maggat-land.

    And yes Junior, Princess and Jay Rod, I bet the Feds are lookin’ at all’a youse. Eric gets a pass ’cause he’s the simpleton of the group. But then again, maybe he’s the weak link and they’ll work him hard???

  11. Jenny says:

    Rudy Giuliani quotes:

    “I was very serious about being a priest, twice in my life. Almost joined the Montfort Seminary after I graduated from high school. Almost went back in the seminary during college.”

    “You have to keep a strong sense of who you really are – and I have a pretty strong sense of myself. It gets me in trouble when I say this, but I don’t think of myself as a politician. I’ve always tried to be honest when communicating with people.”

    “It’s about time law enforcement got as organized as organized crime.”

  12. Geoguy says:

    Giuliani: the guy who forgot the password to his own phone. I hope he forgot where he left lots of things.

  13. punaise says:

    Preet Bharara Thinks Rudy Giuliani Is in ‘Deep Trouble’

    The fact that they were trying to execute these searches under the Trump administration and were blocked from doing so seems unusual. What do you make of that?

    I don’t know all the details, and I don’t know the timetable. There is an argument that it was legitimate not to permit the seeking of the warrants to go forward given the proximity to the election, and the importance of Giuliani to the election, so I’m not second-guessing that decision without more information. But the other odd thing about this is had the Justice Department allowed the searches to be done when Trump was president, and had the Southern District of New York been able to collect that evidence, and had they been able to either bring a charge or appear as if they were about to before Trump left office, Rudy Giuliani would have been a prime pardon recipient. So the perverse thing, depending on your perspective, is that it’s possible the delay by Justice cost Rudy Giuliani a Trump pardon.

    • Leoghann says:

      This is something I began to wonder about in January, when the insurrection arrests seemed to be going slow. Why work hard on a group of investigations, only to see them be for nought because of pardons? Then, as I was pondering it one night, it occurred to me that there might be a number of other investigations that were being slow-tracked. I wasn’t sure if such reasoning could even be a thing for DOJ. Seeing Bharara talk about it tells me at least I’m not too crazy.

  14. harpie says:

    Charles Pierce: The Rudy Giuliani News Made Me Think of Everyone Whose Lives Were Ground Up in His Later Work I thought of Marie Yovanovitch, and Alexander Vindman, and Fiona Hill.

    […] But, when I heard about the raid on Wednesday, I thought about the victims of the later Giuliani period, the ones whose lives got ground up while Rudy and his vulgar talking yam of a client pushed a Russian disinformation campaign about the Bidens and Ukraine. […]

    • John Paul Jones says:

      At the bottom of that story is a link to the Arizona “audit” (oddit?) story which is getting weirder by the day. Maddow reported last night that the CyberNinjas are exploring the possibility of a contract to oddit Michigan’s votes. And then the other close states, presumeably.

      This – the myth of the “great steal,” is turning into the modern-day version of the 1918 “stab-in-the-back” myth which ultimately did for the Weimar Republic. When enough citizens don’t trust the democracy, there’s a real danger it could collapse. And if that was a tragedy, then this time, it’ll be a farce, overseen by the Republican party.

  15. harpie says:

    Via A. Weisburd:
    6:23 PM · Apr 28, 2021

    Many of Giuliani’s associates in Ukraine have helped investigators ahead of today’s raids on his home. One told me he spoke to FBI agents for 10 hours straight in a DC hotel. Another says he volunteered the passwords to his phone and email, then explained each message from Rudy

  16. Badger Robert says:

    Thanks Ms. Wheeler. What are the more serious charges that could be brought against Mr. Guiliani in addition to being an unregistered foreign agent? And doesn’t the attorney think he is immune because he has retained insurance against the fmr guy, or imagined insurance against the current President?

  17. Lawnboy says:

    Lets not get ahead of ourselves. Rudy is a lawyer, he knows the ropes, and I think he has set this up brilliantly. By working out of a Landscape company, he did the presser out front remember……he can now claim that all evidence was planted!!!

    Badadump dump dump

  18. TooLoose LeTruck says:

    Which of the two Ukrainians, was it Parnas, got their feelings hurt a while back?

    Any chance he’s turned state’s evidence at this point?

    (Is that the right wording?)

    Is Lev talking his head off?

    Wan’t Parnas arrested at one point just as he was about to fly out of the country?

    • Rugger9 says:

      IIRC it was Parnas on all of these, and he’s done interviews too. Firtash seems less chatty anyhow.

      • TooLoose LeTruck says:

        I recall Len being offended by the way he was treated by the Trump camp, near the end…

        Hurt fee-fees?

        (in best soup nazi imitation voice)

        No pardon for YOU! No pardon for YOU! No pardon for YOU!

        And didn’t Trump refuse to pay Rudy’s legal fees near the end?

        I have to wonder…

        If Rudy should somehow end up staring at a serious stretch behind bars, will he turn on Trump?

  19. ernesto1581 says:

    what they’re finding at chez rudy:

    hairdye, girdles, 25 remaining copies of Leadership by Rudolph W Giuliani, autographed 8×10’s of bernie kerick and john gotti, letter from donald j trump that starts, Well, I’ll think about it, a squeegee, blank pre-nup form and one eyebrow comb.

    the Monforts, by the way, used to shape up at Lloyd Neck, LI, NY and a goodly number of them over the years acheived Monsignor status. Monsignors function basically as the bishop’s strong-armed donation-squeezers and all purpose hit-men. The father house used to be in Ozone Park, Queens, NY.

    Right up the young Rudy’s alley, I guess.

    • Lady4Real says:

      Foreign Agents Registration Act. You register with the federal government to represent foreign countries or you are considered a spy with stuff to hide.

  20. Rugger9 says:

    One wonders where Jenna Ellis is with all of these legal problems hitting Team Kraken. As I recall, she was one of the noisier ones. Anything in play for her?

  21. joel fisher says:

    Do I have this right? A search of Rudy’s place yielding phones and devices, but a search only for Toensing’s phone? She doesn’t have umpteen burners or other devices?

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      She might, but if the warrant asks for only one phone, that’s the only device the feds had probable cause to believe contained evidence of a crime.

      • joel fisher says:

        If they can figure out what phone/device she use for criminal activity and what the other devices are up to……Pretty smart cookies.

  22. harpie says:

    A thread from Marcy this morning:
    7:58 AM · Apr 29, 2021

    Given the reports that Billy Barr held up the investigation of Rudy for two years, here’s a post laying out how DOJ broke all their rules on tips to avoid tying Trump’s impeachment to the Parnas and Fruman case.


    What SHOULD have have happened […]

    Had DOJ tied the whistleblower complaint to the Parnas and Fruman case, it would have made Rudy’s role the obvious pivot point between the two.

    Now, 20 months [harpie addition: TWO Senate VOTES to ignore EVERYTHING, one botched PANDEMIC response, and one SEDITIOUS CONSPIRACY] later, we’ve gotten to where we would have been had DOJ simply followed their own rules.

    • AndTheSlithyToves says:

      Slight edit: Now, 20 months [harpie addition: TWO Senate VOTES to ignore EVERYTHING, one botched PANDEMIC response, one SEDITIOUS CONSPIRACY, and one FAILED COUP to overthrow the GOTUS] later, we’ve gotten to where we would have been had DOJ simply followed their own rules.

  23. Katie says:

    Great allusion in your title! I hope that Marie Yovanovich is feeling some pay-back.

    [Welcome to emptywheel. Please use a more differentiated username when you comment next as we have several community members named “Katie,” “Kate,” “Katey.” Thanks. /~Rayne]

      • KrusherKing says:

        Rudy said lotsa things, he’s not exactly a monument of veracity. Still, I expect he does have a lot of information and he may or may not use it to bargain down to lesser charges. Depends on his level of anxiety about polonium tea.

        [Welcome back to emptywheel. Please use the same username each time you comment so that community members get to know you. This is your second user name. Thanks. /~Rayne]

  24. Rugger9 says:

    Something that I wonder about is whether the Cyber Ninjas have a Russian connection or two including funding, because the whole AZ “audit” will never meet any objective standard for evidence (outside of Trumpworld) and would otherwise be a complete waste of time and money. The discontent sowed by the “audit” plays directly into Putin’s hands as do all of the GOP-led suppression initiatives.

    • What Constitution? says:

      No, no. Not Russia. I’m pretty sure the Cyber Ninjas founder guys picked the name because everybody knows “ninjas” are from Japan. See, call the operation “Cyber Ninjas” and nobody would suspect Russian involvement, right? These operators are crafty; “this is an example of schmartness”. So, no. Not Russian-backed. Not even the Russians would back something as wackadoodle as the Arizona Republican Party, after all.

  25. hollywood says:

    All along I thought Rudy’s “insurance policy” was a pardon from Trump. At this distance I think it’s what Rudy has to offer when he flips. Will he?

  26. cavenewt says:

    As a computer consultant, I could not help but be struck by this scintillating comment by Rudy during a rather unhinged interview with Tucker Carlson (whose face finally seems to have permanently stuck in that concerned scowl):

    “Hard drives are electronic devices, they just mimic the computer.”


    • Rayne says:

      Can’t tell you how many times I have wondered whether Giuliani’s cybersecurity business was an in-your-face cover for crimes relying information theft. Actual cybersecurity seems completely out of Rudy’s reach even if only a veneer.

      • bmaz says:

        Is Rudy a “Cyber Ninja”? Just asking.

        They do all seem to have the same (not real) qualifications.

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