Rudy Giuliani, an attorney and adviser to former President Donald Trump, won’t face criminal charges over his work on issues related to Ukraine, federal prosecutors said Monday.
The investigation of Giuliani grabbed headlines last May when the FBI raided the former New York mayor’s home and office, carrying out a court-ordered search warrant seeking evidence of violations of the Foreign Agents Registration Act. The probe was believed to be focused on his efforts in 2019 and 2020 to prompt Ukraine to launch an investigation into the business dealings of Hunter Biden. Giuliani and Trump hoped such a probe would be politically damaging to Joe Biden, whom the Trump camp accurately saw as the most serious potential opponent for Trump’s reelection bid.
The episode, including an attempt by Giuliani to seek the ouster of U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, spurred the first impeachment of Trump by the House.
The FBI raids against Giuliani last year seemed to signal a particularly grave criminal investigation, since the sign-off of senior Justice Department officials is required for searches of premises used by lawyers.
However, in recent months the probe seemed to have petered out. On Monday, Manhattan-based federal prosecutors overseeing the investigation told a federal judge there was no long a need for a court-appointed special master to oversee the sifting of records from Giuliani’s home and office because the investigation had essentially ended.
“The Government writes to notify the Court that the grand jury investigation that led to the issuance of the above-referenced warrants has concluded, and that based on information currently available to the Government, criminal charges are not forthcoming,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Rebekah Donaleski and other prosecutors wrote in a two-sentence letter to Judge J. Paul Oetken. The letter did not provide further details on why the probe was being dropped.
An attorney for Giuliani, Robert Costello, said the announcement was a vindication for the former mayor and one-time head of the very office that investigated him.
“Myself and Mayor Giuliani are pleased, but not surprised by the result,” Costello told POLITICO Monday afternoon. “They [prosecutors] deviated from office practice by filing this, which is what I had asked for for months….The guy’s reputation has been trashed over this kind of stuff and he deserves this statement and he got it today.”
Asked how prosecutors met the supposedly high bar of evidence needed to search an attorney’s office or email account, yet came up without enough evidence to charge a crime, Costello said he believes the U.S. Attorney’s office was tricked.
“I think the short answer you’re looking for is: somebody lied to them. Somebody gave them alleged probable cause to believe that Rudy Giuliani committed a crime….That’s clearly turned out not the be the case,” said Costello.
While Giuliani seems unlikely to face criminal charges, he continues to face a series of legal headaches from his activities following the 2020 presidential election. He’s been temporarily disbarred in New York state and in Washington, D.C., while bar discipline proceedings take place in connection with charges he advanced specious claims while seeking to undermine Biden’s victory. Giuliani is also facing civil defamation lawsuits over his claims that various voting machines were rigged to undercount Trump votes.
Four other men, including at least three associated of Giuliani, were sentenced to prison by Oetken in related investigations carried out by the same prosecutors.
Lev Parnas, who worked with Giuliani on Ukraine-related matters, was sentenced to a year and eight months in prison for various offenses including swindling backers of a venture called “Fraud Guarantee.” Giuliani took a $500,000 consulting fee for his work related to the business, but insisted that he was unaware of any fraud connected to the company.
Another man who was active in Giuliani’s Ukraine work, Igor Fruman, was sentenced to a year and a day in prison for soliciting a campaign contribution from a Russian national.
Oetken also sentenced David Correia to a year and a day in prison for false statements and wire fraud as part of the “Fraud Guarantee” business.