Federal prosecutors in Manhattan have asked a judge to appoint an outside authority known as the “special master” to oversee a review of documents seized by FBI agents last week from Rudy Giuliani as part of their investigation into his work in Ukraine.
Federal prosecutors in Manhattan said their claim, unsealed Tuesday in federal court, stems from concerns about solicitor-client privilege.
« [U]In exceptional circumstances, appointing a special master to review seized documents from a lawyer may be appropriate, ”prosecutors wrote. “These circumstances may exist when the search relates to the files of a criminal defense lawyer with unfavorable cases” to the prosecution.
The three deputy U.S. attorneys on the letter are part of the office’s public corruption unit and are also prosecutors in the campaign finance case involving several of Mr. Giuliani’s associates. The letter – which indicated that a grand jury investigation was underway – was written to U.S. District Judge J. Paul Oetken, who is also overseeing the case.
If appointed, a special master would review the seized documents to identify which documents are protected by solicitor-client privilege and should not be used in the government investigation – with input from Mr. Giuliani. A similar procedure was put in place in 2018 for documents seized in connection with the investigation of another lawyer for Mr. Trump, Michael Cohen.
Prosecutors’ request for a special master also related to documents seized from Mr Giuliani’s close associate, lawyer Victoria Toensing. On the same day, Mr. Giuliani’s home was searched, investigators also executed a search warrant for Ms. Toensing’s phone. Ms. Toensing helped Mr. Giuliani investigate President Biden’s activities in Ukraine.
A spokesperson for Ms Toensing’s law firm said she was told she was not a target.
Neither Mr. Giuliani nor Ms. Toensing filed any responses to the register; lawyers for both declined to comment.
Mr. Giuliani has denied ever serving as a lobbyist or agent for a foreign government.
Federal prosecutors in Manhattan executed the search warrants in an attempt to examine Mr. Giuliani’s communications with a range of former Ukrainian officials, the Wall Street Journal reported, as investigators questioned whether the efforts of the former New York mayor to fire US diplomat Kiev violated foreign lobbying rules.
The search warrants targeted evidence related to Marie Yovanovitch, the former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine whom Mr. Giuliani urged to oust in the spring of 2019, as well as communications with U.S. government officials or employees regarding the former Ambassador or her. post, the people mentioned. Mr Trump ordered Ms Yovanovitch’s removal in the spring of 2019 after Mr Giuliani pressured him.
The seizure of Mr Giuliani’s personal electronic devices marked an escalation of an investigation into his work in Ukraine that began more than a year ago.
Mr. Giuliani’s efforts in Ukraine were at the center of Mr. Trump’s first indictment of abusing his power by seeking Ukraine’s help in his candidacy for the 2020 election. Mr. Trump was impeached by the Democratic-led House and acquitted by the Republican-led Senate.
Mr Giuliani alleged that Mr Biden, as vice president, engaged in corruption when he called for the ouster of a Ukrainian attorney general, who had investigated a Ukrainian gas company where the Mr. Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, served on the board. The Bidens have denied any wrongdoing, and ousting the prosecutor was a goal in the era of the United States and several European countries.
Federal prosecutors have pursued a theory based on the idea that Mr Giuliani’s efforts to fire Ms Yovanovitch were made at the behest of Ukrainian officials in exchange for damaging information about the Bidens, the Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday. . Such an exchange, even if it did not involve any financial payment, could violate federal lobbying laws, the Journal reported.
—Rebecca Ballhaus and Jacob Gershman contributed to this article.
Write to Rebecca Davis O’Brien at [email protected]
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