New York (CNN)After being under investigation by federal prosecutors for more than two years, Rudy Giuliani got a glimpse late last month of the possible charge authorities are eyeing for him: a breach of foreign lobbying laws connected to his work in Ukraine.
The potential crime, detailed on search warrants that federal agents executed on his Manhattan home and office, has often been dismissed by critics as a paperwork violation.
But legal experts say that particularly in Giuliani’s case, a charge under the Foreign Agents Registration Act, or FARA, which requires that individuals disclose with the Department of Justice lobbying activities on behalf of foreign governments or officials, should be regarded as a serious infraction, one with geopolitical implications.
In recent years, it has been used to go after other allies of former President Donald Trump, including Michael Flynn and Paul Manafort.
“A FARA violation is much more than a failure to register with DOJ,” said Daniel S. Goldman, a former federal prosecutor who was director of investigations for the House Intelligence Committee during the first impeachment of Trump, an inquiry that probed Giuliani’s efforts in Ukraine.
In Giuliani’s case, Goldman said, the set of allegations “goes to the heart of our national security and our diplomatic and foreign relations.”
Prosecutors are examining whether Giuliani may have been lobbying for Ukrainian officials when he sought the ouster of the then-US Ambassador, Marie Yovanovitch, and urged Ukraine to investigate Trump’s political rival, then-Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and his son Hunter, while pursuing those outcomes as Trump’s attorney.
Giuliani has not been charged with a crime. He has said his activities in Ukraine were done in his capacity as Trump’s lawyer and that he “never represented a Ukrainian national or official before the United States government.”
And while prosecutors appear to have enough evidence to have obtained search warrants, FARA investigations sometimes don’t result in charges.
“There has historically been reluctance [to bring such cases] because it is sometimes a challenging charge,” said Ryan Fayhee, a former national security prosecutor.
It is also possible that prosecutors could pursue other charges against Giuliani. They have repeatedly stressed that the grand jury investigation is ongoing, and on Thursday they disclosed in a court filing opposing Giuliani’s request to unseal affidavits supporting an earlier search of his iCloud account that “[a]lthough there has been public reporting about the existence of this investigation, much of the information set forth in the affidavits is not publicly known.”
They also noted that the affidavits include “discussion of significant quantities of materials that have not been publicly revealed and were obtained pursuant to search warrants and subpoenas” as well as “information provided by individuals to the Government pursuant to subpoena or otherwise.”
In executing the search warrants in April, authorities seized 18 electronic devices, the Justice Department said, and they took the devices following a period during which Giuliani and Trump made efforts to overturn the results of th
How federal prosecutors are pursuing Rudy Giuliani
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