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Opinion | Giuliani’s legal problems are also Trump’s

There can be no doubt that the execution of a search warrant at Giuliani’s residence is a serious step, indicating that the criminal investigation against him is well advanced. Federal prosecutors cannot get a search warrant based on a sentiment or simple suspicion. They had to present substantial evidence to a federal judge that there is good reason to believe that a federal crime was committed and that evidence of the federal crime was located in Giuliani’s apartment and his electronic devices. It is important that a judge was convinced that they met this standard.

For that reason, prosecutors probably already have much of the evidence they need. In my time as a federal prosecutor, when I applied for a search warrant for a topic̵

7;s electronic devices, I had typically already received some of the topic’s communications or electronic documents from other sources such as affiliates, subpoenas, or previous search options. I used this evidence to persuade a judge that this communication would also be found on the devices. Although prosecutors have done so some communication before receiving electronic devices, the devices may contain additional data, including deleted messages, metadata, and location information.

In this particular case, it can be trusted that the evidence was solid and substantial in view of the considerable internal control that this case would receive within the Ministry of Justice. The criminal investigation of anyone Attorney is a sensitive case because of the complexity caused by attorney-client privilege, and the DOJ takes special care when investigating a criminal defense attorney to ensure that the department does not appear to be targeting opponents. It is obvious that getting a search warrant for the former president’s personal lawyer’s residence and equipment would gain even more control from the top department management.

Oddly enough, the crime that Giuliani is under investigation – violation of the law on the registration of foreign agents, which requires agents from foreign governments who lobby US officials to reveal their relationship with the foreign government – has only rarely been prosecuted. for decades. But FARA prosecution peaked during the Trump administration, including the high-profile convictions of former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort and former Republican finance minister Elliott Broidy. (An employee of former Trump National Security Adviser Michael Flynn was also charged with a FARA violation, but the conviction was later overturned.) That group of FARA prosecutions led President Joe Biden to promise on the campaign track to increase the use of DANGER if he was elected and said there should be no lobbying on behalf of foreign governments outside of regular diplomatic channels.

The investigation reportedly centers around Giuliani’s efforts to lobby the Trump administration on behalf of Ukrainian officials and oligarchs, who also helped him dig up dirt on then-candidate Biden and his family during the campaign. It is also about Giuliani’s efforts to persuade Trump to oust the ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, whose anti-corruption work was considered hostile by the same Ukrainian officials. If Giuliani’s efforts to push Trump to fire Yovanovitch were carried out on behalf of Ukrainian officials, it could be the kind of foreign lobbying activity he should have revealed.

So far, Giuliani has tried to hide behind mere technical conditions, arguing that he did not have a written contract with a foreign official or oligarch. He does not get away with it in court. What matters is whether he was an agent of a foreign government, not whether his relationship with the foreign government was reminded in writing. You can not avoid FARA requirements by not writing the details of your arrangement with a foreign government.

Giuliani’s work in Ukraine has been the subject of controversy for two years and was central to the first indictment of Trump’s pressure on the new Ukrainian president. But, according to The New York Times, senior political nominee DOJ in the Department of Justice repeatedly tried to block the search options, suggesting the department has had the evidence it needs against Giuliani for some time.

These previous efforts to slow down the investigation are not helping Giuliani now. If anything, they could eventually work against Giuliani if ​​it turns out they were done at his urging. Giuliani’s foolish public statements (he wrongly claimed that search warrants can only be issued if there is a fear that the evidence will be destroyed) also do not help him if he is eventually prosecuted. At that point, he will have to adopt a defense strategy that could put him at odds with his former client.

Giuliani’s defense is likely to be that he acted entirely in Trump’s direction and that his efforts on behalf of the officials and oligarchs were made to favor them on Trump’s behalf and were done at Trump’s command and his knowledge. From a litigation strategy perspective, Giuliani’s best defense would include testimony from the former president that he knew everything Giuliani was doing and approved of any action he took. That would allow Giuliani’s defense team to argue that when he ultimately advanced Trump’s interests, he was actually working on behalf of the United States and not Ukrainian oligarchs.

Unfortunately for Giuliani, Trump is not known for sticking his neck out of disgraced former aides, especially if it would lead to personal embarrassment or potential responsibility. Given how Trump distanced himself from former attorney Michael Cohen when he faced a similar danger, it’s hard to imagine the former president taking an oath to tell the truth and expose himself to withered cross-examination. at best can embarrass him or expose him to potential responsibility at worst. (Trump’s record of being sworn in in civil lawsuits is well documented.)

The only sure way for Trump to avoid testifying in the trial against Giuliani would be to take the fifth, but Trump has repeatedly noted that taking the fifth makes you look guilty. The only way for him to get out of the testimony is that he is suggesting that he did not really know what Giuliani was doing and did not approve of his activities. That would make him worthless to Giuliani as a witness and force Giuliani to point the finger at Trump to save himself. The five-year sentence that Manafort received for conspiring to violate FARA gives Giuliani ample incentive to do so, especially since he knows Trump can no longer forgive him.

When a lawyer, especially a famous former federal prosecutor like Giuliani, faces time in jail, the incentive to reduce that sentence is significant. Like Michael Cohen, Giuliani will have every incentive to help federal prosecutors if it could potentially reduce his prison sentence. That could make the Giuliani prosecution far more consistent than it seems at first glance, given his role in everything from defending Trump’s accusations to the January 6 uprising.

Without Trump’s protection or financial support, Giuliani’s loyalty seems to have a limited shelf life.

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