President Joe Biden on Thursday told NBC News that he only learned of the FBI raid on the apartment belonging to Rudy Giuliani “when the rest of the world learned about it” on Wednesday evening.
“I made a pledge I would not interfere in any way, order or try to stop any investigation the Justice Department had under way,” Biden said during an interview with NBC’s Craig Melvin. “I learned about that last night when the rest of the world learned about it. My word. I had no idea this was under way.”
He added that he has not received a briefing on any investigation into Giuliani, and said that he has not asked for one.
“That’s the Justice Department’s independent judgment,” Biden said. “The last administration politicized the Justice Department so badly. So many quit, so may left because that’s not the role of a president to say who should be prosecuted, when they should be prosecuted, who should be not prosecuted. That’s not the role of the president. The Justice Department is the people’s lawyer.”
Federal investigators executed a search warrant at Giuliani’s New York City apartment and his office as part of a multi-year investigation into the former mayor by the Manhattan U.S. Attorney’s office and the FBI over his business dealings in Ukraine and possibly violating federal lobbying laws, according to The Wall Street Journal. Giuliani’s attorney, Robert Costello, confirmed that authorities searched his client’s apartment at 6 a.m., where they seized electronic devices belonging to Giuliani.
“The search warrants involve only one indication of an alleged incident of failure to register as a foreign agent,” Costello said in a statement, saying that the items that were seized are “replete with material covered by the attorney client privilege.”
The Journal reported that investigators also executed a search warrant for a phone belonging to lawyer Victoria Toensing, who worked with Giuliani in urging Ukraine to investigate Biden.
A spokesperson for the attorney said, “Ms. Toensing is a former federal prosecutor, and senior Justice Department official. She has always conducted herself and her law practice according to legal and ethical standards. She would have been happy to turn over any relevant documents. All they had to do was ask. Ms. Toensing was informed that she is not a target of the investigation.”
Daniel Goldman, formerly the lead counsel for the House impeachment inquiry in 2019, tweeted that the search warrant for Toensing’s phone “makes sense because, during the Ukraine impeachment investigation, we obtained draft retainer agreements between a Ukrainian official and Toensing and [her husband, Joseph] diGenova that Giuliani brokered.”
House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff, D-Calif., one of the leaders of the 2019 impeachment inquiry, said on MSNBC that it’s “disturbing” that under former President Donald Trump, the Justice Department made multiple attempts to prevent the Manhattan U.S. Attorney’s office from searching Giuliani’s phones.
“What is disturbing to me is that, if there was probable cause to believe that there was evidence of a crime at Giuliani’s business or home last year, and Bill Barr’s Justice Department wouldn’t do anything about it — it’s another indication of politicization at the very top of the Justice Department,” he said.
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