Rudy Giuliani Under Criminal Investigation

Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani is under criminal investigation by the same office he once headed as U.S. Attorney.

The New York Times is reporting that Rudy Giuliani, who has been acting as President Trump’s attorney with respect to the Russia investigation and, apparently, other matters, is under criminal investigation by the same office he once headed and where he earned the reputation that sent him to national political prominence:

WASHINGTON — Federal prosecutors in Manhattan are investigating whether President Trump’s personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani broke lobbying laws in his dealings in Ukraine, according to two people familiar with the inquiry.

The investigators are examining Mr. Giuliani’s efforts to undermine the American ambassador to Ukraine, Marie L. Yovanovitch, one of the people said. She was recalled in the spring as part of Mr. Trump’s broader campaign to pressure Ukraine into helping his political prospects.

The investigation into Mr. Giuliani is tied to the case against two of his associates who were arrested this week on campaign finance-related charges, the people familiar with the inquiry said. The associates were charged with funneling illegal contributions to a congressman whose help they sought in removing Ms. Yovanovitch.

Mr. Giuliani has denied wrongdoing, but he acknowledged that he and the associates worked with Ukrainian prosecutors to collect potentially damaging information about Ms. Yovanovitch and other targets of Mr. Trump and his allies, including former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and his younger son, Hunter Biden. Mr. Giuliani shared that material this year with American government officials and a Trump-friendly columnist in an effort to undermine the ambassador and other Trump targets.

Federal law requires American citizens to disclose to the Justice Department any contacts with the government or media in the United States at the direction or request of foreign politicians or government officials, regardless of whether they pay for the representation. Law enforcement officials have made clear in recent years that covert foreign influence is as great a threat to the country as spies trying to steal government secrets.

A criminal investigation of Mr. Giuliani raises the stakes of the Ukraine scandal for the president, whose dealings with the country are already the subject of an impeachment inquiry. It is also a stark turn for Mr. Giuliani, who now finds himself under scrutiny from the same United States attorney’s office he led in the 1980s, when he first rose to prominence as a tough-on-crime prosecutor and later ascended to two terms as mayor of New York.

It was unclear how far the investigation has progressed, and there was no indication that prosecutors in Manhattan have decided to file additional charges in the case. A spokeswoman for the United States attorney in Manhattan, Geoffrey S. Berman, declined to comment.


CNN and other news organizations reported that federal prosecutors were scrutinizing Mr. Giuliani’s financial dealings with his associates, but it has not been previously reported that federal prosecutors in Manhattan are specifically investigating whether he violated foreign lobbying laws in his work in Ukraine.

Ms. Yovanovitch told impeachment investigators on Friday that Mr. Trump had pressed for her removal for months even though the State Department believed she had “done nothing wrong.”

Mr. Giuliani had receded from the spotlight in recent years while he built a brisk international consulting business, including work in Ukraine. But he re-emerged in the center of the political stage last year, when Mr. Trump retained him for the special counsel’s investigation into Russian election interference.

Russia’s sabotage also ushered in a new focus at the Justice Department on enforcing the laws regulating foreign influence that had essentially sat dormant for a half-century and under which Mr. Giuliani is now being investigated.

It was just a few days ago, of course, that two associates of Giuliani’s were arrested on their way out of the country on charges that, as of yet, don’t appear to directly implicate the former Mayor. However, it isn’t uncommon for indictments in Federal Court to be amended after the fact to include additional facts and additional counts. Additionally, if Giuliani is the target here, as seems likely, then prosecutors will no doubt be trying to get one or both of these men to flip on their former associate and testify against him.

This news broke just hours after President Trump appeared to begin distancing himself from Giuliani, who has been a long-time Trump friend long before coming to represent him as an attorney:

We’ve heard this before, of course, in the case of Michael Cohen, President Trump’s longtime attorney and “fixer” Michael Cohen. Cohen, of course, found himself in legal jeopardy beginning last year and ended up pleading guilty and essentially fingering the President as a co-conspirator in a scheme to violate Federal election laws. It seems apparent that Trump is preparing to treat Rudy the same way he did Cohen when it was apparent he was going down. That effort failed when it was revealed that Cohen had recordings in which he and Trump were discussing the effort to pay off Stormy Daniels and Rudy Giuliani and failed completely when Cohen plead guilty to a scheme in which the President was clearly an active participant.

In Giuliani’s case, we don’t really need tapes of conversations between the President and the former Mayor. Thanks to what can only be called a bizarre legal and media strategy, there are dozens of instances of Giuliani appeared on television, principally Fox News and CNN, advancing the President’s interests with regard to the Russia investigation, the accusations against Joe and Hunter Biden, and the bizarre conspiracy theory that attempts to blame Ukraine rather than Russia for 2016 election interference. Whether the matters involving Giuliani end the same way that those involving Cohen have remains to be seen, but at the very least it’s clear that this President has really bad instincts when it comes to picking attorneys.

All that being said, it bears repeating that the fact that someone is under investigation does not mean that an indictment is imminent or that it will ever materialize. And an indictment does not mean that someone is guilty. Nonetheless, the vultures appear to be circulating for Rudy Giuliani and the prospect for what would be a massive fall for someone who was once without question one of the most highly regarded people in the country in the wake of the September 11th attacks appear to be highly likely.

FILED UNDER: Crime, Law and the Courts, US Politics, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. SKI says:

    I’m loving Rudy’s public defense: I wasn’t lobbying on behalf of a foreign entity, I was working for Trump.

  2. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Nobody could have predicted this.

  3. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @SKI: trump barely knows him.

  4. Michael Reynolds says:

    Not my line, but this really is Stupid Watergate. I have Giuliani playing the Gordon Liddy role, Barr is obviously John Mitchell. Two old men going to prison. What a pair of fools. Prison is not a good place for old men who need their toilet time.

  5. When it comes to Consiglieres Giuliani is no Tom Hagen.

  6. OzarkHillbilly says:

    trump, in his great and unmatched wisdom, has had his best people share their Ukraine talking points with Democrats. Again.

  7. Sleeping Dog says:


    You begin to wonder, if some assistant to the assistant associate something or other is engaged in a bit of political sabotage. They’re disgusted and fed up, but can’t afford to simply quit.

  8. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    Follow the money. Who is paying Colludy Rudy? If unimpeded this investigation will lead back thru the Russian Mafia straight to Putin. The 2016 election, Trumps tax returns, Ukraine, and now Syria are all part of the same story; Putin helps Trump and so Trump helps Putin because Putin owns Trump.
    Only time will tell…what we do know right this very minute is that Bob Mueller missed a whole lot of shit.

  9. de stijl says:

    The two dudes had lunch with Giuliani the day they were arrested with one-way tickets to Vienna.

    Giuliani was scheduled to go to Vienna (since cancelled).

    If true, Worst Criminal Conspiracy EVAR!

    Seriously, fly into Munich and take the damn train.

    This is Burn After Reading level of shenanigans. It’s insulting.

  10. Kathy says:

    What will be interesting is to know how much of Giuliani’s criminal activities were instigated by Trump. Attorney-client privilege does not apply within a criminal conspiracy.

  11. de stijl says:

    The two dudes wanted to get a retail cannabis franchise going in Nevada, so they bribed their way into the process then failed to apply for a license by the deadline cut-off.

    Badger and Skinny Pete are more competent.

  12. Teve says:

    “Put a note up? “Highly classified shit found, Signals Intelligence shit, CIA shit? Hello? Did you lose your secret CIA shit?” I don’t think so.”

  13. de stijl says:

    @de stijl:

    Officially, I will now refer to Parnas and Fruman as Badger and Skinny Pete.

  14. de stijl says:

    With the release of El Camino, I learned the Breaking Bad finale was 6 years ago.

    No freaking way! Surely that was the winter before last, or the year before.

    It’s seriously spooky. In my mind the Breaking Bad finale was like two or three years ago. Six years? No freaking way!

    Time is elastic.

  15. de stijl says:

    @de stijl:

    Also, Giuliani is basically a super incompetent and incoherent version of Lydia.

    I know it’s not canon, but Lydia, Badger, and Skinny Pete are now buds and partners in crime.

  16. charon says:

    Excellent summation of this in the New Yorker, here is my excerpt:

    (a) Igor Fruman and Lev Parnas, whom the Wall Street Journal politely describes as “Florida businessmen who are U.S. citizens born in former Soviet republics,” were both carrying one-way tickets out of the country when federal agents arrested them at Dulles International Airport, on Wednesday night, and charged them with breaking campaign-finance laws by disguising donations from foreign entities.

    (b) Parnas, a forty-seven-year-old native of Ukraine who arrived in the United States in 1976, owns a company called Fraud Guarantee. Evidently, it’s some sort of fraud-prevention advisory service. According to the Times, this company paid Giuliani hundreds of thousands of dollars for “business and legal advice.”

    (c) According to Buzzfeed News, Parnas has in the past “worked for three stockbrokerages that were later expelled by regulators for fraud and other violations—though he was never individually charged—and racked up nine court judgments for failing to pay loans and other debts.”

    (d) Parnas once tried to produce a movie called “Anatomy of an Assassin.” It didn’t go well. “Mr. Parnas is a con man, he is a crook,” Dianne Pues, a New Jersey woman who invested in the project, told the Miami Herald. “He conned us from day one. . . . He financially ruined us.”

    (e) As he travelled around doing whatever he did, Parnas didn’t stint on expenses. “There were bills running to hundreds of dollars at exclusive restaurants such as Novikov in London and BLT Prime in Washington,” Buzzfeed reported. “During one of his many trips to the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv, there was a $657 charge at Tootsie, the popular strip club in the heart of the city.”

    (f) Fruman, a fifty-three-year-old native of Belarus, apparently runs an import-export business that ships goods to and from Ukraine. He also reportedly owned, or owns, a beach club in the Black Sea city of Odessa, which has long been a stronghold of organized crime. The name of the club: Mafia Rave.

    (g) In the spring of last year, after the dynamic duo donated three hundred and twenty-five thousand dollars to America First Action, a super pac that supports Donald Trump, they were invited to the White House, where they had dinner with the President and got their pictures taken with him. “Thank you President Trump !!! Making America great !!!!!! incredible dinner and even better conversation,” Parnas posted on his Facebook account.

    (h) On Thursday, Trump said, “I don’t know those gentlemen.”

  17. charon says:


    If you read through the replies to this link, lots of nifty photos. (The New Yorker piece linked above is good for identifying who is who).

  18. Jay L Gischer says:

    @Michael Reynolds: Personally, I’m thinking of Giuliani as Chuck Colson. Parnas and Fruman (Badger and Skinny Pete!) are Liddy and Howard Hunt. Liddy at least was a patriot, and thought he was helping the country. Parnas and Fruman are clearly just helping themselves, and whomever pays them.

    This has to be about money, I would think. Rudy is after a big payday. Follow the money!

  19. DeD says:

    @de stijl:

    Officially, I will now refer to Parnas and Fruman as Badger and Skinny Pete.

    More like Bee Bop and Rock Steady.

  20. de stijl says:


    In your scenario / schema who is The Shredder? Giuliani?

  21. de stijl says:

    Skinny Pete has hidden depths. Badger is… let’s just call Badger “uncomplicated”.

    When Skinny Pete busted out his classically trained piano chops at the off-brand Guitar Center, that was epic.

    The type of quiet character building, I love it.