Search warrants aren’t easy to get, and in the case of the Giuliani search warrants, the DOJ and a judge were convinced there was evidence of wrongdoing. It’s particularly unusual to execute a warrant against a lawyer.
Investigators are looking into whether he violated the Foreign Agents Registration Act, or FARA, by acting as an agent for Ukraine in attempts to oust U.S. Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch — at least this is what is publicly known. But investigators are also likely on the lookout for other criminal acts on behalf of his client, Trump, such as violations of federal bribery and other statutes as were laid out in the first impeachment trial.
You might remember this from September 2019.
But the impeachment record and admissions on cable television will only get prosecutors so far. The raids of Giuliani’s home and office last week could produce additional direct, contemporaneous evidence tying him directly to Trump’s alleged shakedown of Ukraine. Texts, calls, notes or other evidence might very well be on the devices that were seized. Normally, the two men’s communications would be privileged as part of the attorney-client relationship. But under the crime-fraud exception, if Giuliani was part of the former president’s alleged crimes, attorney-client privilege would not shield his communications relating to this misconduct.
While it’s not a sure thing there will be a case for conspiracy charges beyond FARA for Giuliani, that is a serious crime. Al Capone was not convicted for racketeering, but for not filing the proper government forms.
This all has profound implications not only for Giuliani but also for the president he served. If there is damning evidence recovered through the warrants, it could implicate Trump directly on Ukraine-related misconduct. Alternatively, the evidence could strengthen the case against Giuliani to the point where he “flips,” turning on Trump and testifying against him in this matter or others.
The Giuliani raids signal to Trump and the Trump circle that the DOJ is going to pursue investigations regardless of the politics, and should be sending chills through Trumplandia that accountability is around the corner.