As outlined in a new report in The New York Times, senior Justice Department officials in the closing months of the Trump era repeatedly blocked efforts by the U.S. Attorney’s office in Manhattan to obtain a search warrant for records of top Trump ally Rudy Giuliani. When seeking records that could contain attorney-client communications, prosecutors are required to seek approval from higher-ranking department officials, and that approval process culminated in repeated denials of support. Before the presidential election, the Times explains, officials opposed the warrant on the grounds that it could impact public perception around the vote, but they continued their opposition after the election.
The officials who blocked the warrant were political appointees, not career officials, the Times notes. Individuals associated with Trump’s team in the federal government were therefore in a position to block an investigation of a high-profile Trump associate, and that’s exactly what they did
Giuliani has faced federal scrutiny over the possibility that he illegally lobbied the federal government on behalf of foreign interests, specifically in connection to his work in Ukraine. Giuliani worked with interests in Ukraine, including oligarch Dmitry Firtash, in his effort to find so-called dirt on the Bidens, and his advocacy for the removal of then-U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch has also raised concerns. Federal investigators have reportedly looked into whether Giuliani “was also working covertly for Ukrainian officials or oligarchs who wanted the ambassador gone for their own reasons,” as explained by the Times.
Giuliani advocated for the removal of Yovanovitch on the grounds of the false idea that she was somehow covertly scheming against then-President Trump. The debacle was one of many elements of the Trump administration’s attempts to pressure Ukraine into punitively investigating the Bidens in exchange for U.S. aid, a scheme that led to Trump’s first impeachment.
Prosecutors in Manhattan first raised the prospect of a warrant for Giuliani’s records last summer, and the Times says that it’s unclear whether or not authorities have successfully obtained a warrant in the time since. The Associated Press reported recently that prosecutors were again considering whether to bring federal criminal charges against Giuliani, who, among other experience, once led the very same U.S. Attorney’s office that is now dealing with his case. In the time since that role, Giuliani has gone all in for Trump, advocating on behalf of the now ex-president in contexts like his impeachment proceedings and the aftermath of the election.