NEW YORK (BLOOMBERG) – Rudy Giuliani said federal investigators seized material from his iCloud while he was representing former President Donald Trump during his impeachment.
Giuliani appeared on Fox News a day after federal agents raided his Manhattan home and office. FBI agents seized the former New York mayor’s phone and other electronic devices.
“The prosecutors in the Justice Department spied on me,” Giuliani said on Tucker Carlson’s show. “These are tactics only known in a dictatorship – where you seize a lawyer’s records in the middle of his representation.”
Manhattan federal prosecutors have been investigating Giuliani in connection with his lobbying work in Ukraine in 2019. The focus of the probe is on his efforts to oust the former US ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, according to the New York Times.
The prosecutors’ search on Wednesday came months after they had initially sought approval for a search warrant for Giuliani’s home and office from the Justice Department, but senior officials in Washington declined to approve it during the Trump administration for several reasons, including the proximity to the presidential election and Trump’s challenge to the results, according to a person familiar with the case.
Senior Justice Department officials under the new administration didn’t block the warrant, the person said.
“I think they should be investigated for blatantly violating my Constitutional rights, the president’s Constitutional rights in the middle of the impeachment defence,” Giuliani said. “They invaded – without telling me – my iCloud. They took documents that are privileged, and then, they unilaterally decided what they could read and not read.”
Jim Margolin, a spokesman for Manhattan US Attorney Audrey Strauss, declined to comment on Giuliani’s claims.
Giuliani spent more time during the interview criticising the Justice Department, which he labelled the “department of injustice,” for failing to investigate Joe Biden’s son Hunter than he did discussing his case.
Though the agents who raided his home at 6am treated him respectfully, he said, they refused to take hard drives that he said belonged to Hunter Biden.
Trump’s demand that Ukrainian officials open an investigation into Biden in exchange for US military aid ultimately led to his first impeachment, although he was ultimately acquitted by the then Republican-controlled Senate.
Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, two associates of Giuliani, are facing federal charges related in part to their effort to oust Yovanovitch.
Giuliani’s actions related to Ukraine have been a subject of scrutiny since the earliest days of the Parnas and Fruman prosecution. Even as he was acting as Trump’s personal attorney, Giuliani was also maintaining a private consulting business that sold services to foreign leaders.
That work posed no risks when it was confined to foreign soil, but raising anything on behalf of foreign clients with US officials could raise potential violations of the Foreign Agent Registration Act, which requires lobbyists to disclose when they are working on behalf of foreign governments, according to legal experts.
The federal authorities were expected to scour the electronic devices for communications between Giuliani and Trump administration officials about Yovanovitch before she was recalled in April 2019, the New York Times reported.
At issue for investigators is whether Giuliani went after Yovanovitch solely on behalf of Trump, who was his client at the time, or whether he was also doing it on behalf of the Ukrainian officials, who wanted her removed for their own reasons, which could be a violation of the Foreign Agents Registration Act.
Giuliani stressed that he didn’t violate the Foreign Agents Registration Act. He certainly wouldn’t have represented a Ukrainian official while he was personal attorney to President Donald Trump, he said.
“I never, ever represented a foreign national,” Giuliani said. “I have in my contracts that I refused to do so.”
Giuliani also insisted the evidence the FBI seized would clear him of wrongdoing, saying, “I’ve known about this for two years Tucker. I could have destroyed the evidence.
“I didn’t destroy the evidence because the evidence is exculpatory,” he said. “It proves that the president and I, and all of us, are innocent.”
Giuliani became a household name in the 1980s while serving as US attorney in Manhattan, the same office that is now investigating him. He was later lauded as “America’s mayor” after his response to the Sept 11, 2001, World Trade Centre attack.
In recent years, Giuliani has cultivated a more pugnacious and partisan image and as an ally of Trump. He was one of the former president’s main lawyers challenging the election results in court and also spoke at the rally that preceded the Jan 6 US Capitol riot.