(C) Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, then-personal attorney to U.S. President Donald Trump, speaks in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S., November 7, 2020. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz
By Jonathan Stempel and Karen Freifeld
NEW YORK (Reuters) – U.S. prosecutors urged a federal judge to allow a review of evidence seized from Rudolph Giuliani’s phones, saying the former New York City mayor was not above the law and could not block the review because he had been Donald Trump’s lawyer.
The recommendation came in a Thursday night court filing, three days after Giuliani opposed the government’s request for a “special master” to review records seized from 18 electronic devices, including cellphones and computers, taken during April 28 raids on his home and office.
Prosecutors have been examining Giuliani’s dealings in Ukraine, including whether he violated lobbying laws by acting as an unregistered foreign agent while working for then-U.S. President Trump.
Giuliani’s lawyers have demanded that prosecutors turn over documents showing what basis they had to obtain warrants to conduct the raids.
They have also said the evidence should have been sought by subpoena, allowing Giuliani to review the devices first, including for attorney-client privilege issues.
But prosecutors said Giuliani was not “above the law or immune to criminal investigation” simply because he was a lawyer, and not entitled to decide what they get to see.
“Giuliani argues that, quite unlike other subjects of criminal investigations, he is entitled to review the affidavits supporting the warrants, which would effectively give him the extraordinary benefit of knowing the government’s evidence before even being charged with a crime,” prosecutors said.
Issuance of a warrant meant a judge found probable cause to believe the seized devices might contain evidence of crimes.
Arthur Aidala, a lawyer for Giuliani, on Friday said a subpoena would have been preferable.
“Any lawyer has an attorney-client privilege that he must protect on behalf of his clients,” he said. “That privilege is doubly enhanced when the lawyer’s client is the President of the United States who also enjoys executive privilege.”
Aidala and Robert Costello, another lawyer for Giuliani, rejected the idea that their client was or considered himself above the law.
U.S. District Judge Paul Oetken in Manhattan will decide whether Giuliani can review the seized materials before prosecutors can, and whether a special master is appropriate.
Giuliani began representing Trump, a Republican, in April 2018 in connection with then-Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
Giuliani also sought prior to the 2020 U.S. election to dig up dirt concerning Ukraine and Democrat Joe Biden, then running for the White House and now U.S. president.
U.S. says Giuliani not above the law, cannot block review of phones
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