The window in which U.S. President Donald Trump can pardon his family and closest associates is quickly closing. But, with federal prosecutors discussing legal requests for Rudy Giuliani’s electronic communications, Trump may have to get on that sooner rather than later, because the investigation into his personal attorney looks like it's ramping up.
Prosecutors for the Southern District of New York have reportedly been in contact with officials at the Justice Department in Washington, D.C. about Giuliani’s emails, but as of now, it is not known whether — or where — they are in the process of obtaining a search warrant. According to NBC News, it is believed that prosecutors are waiting on approval before asking a judge to approve the warrant as materials in Giuliani’s emails may be protected by attorney-client privilege.
The scope of the investigation is unclear, but within the last year, prosecutors from the Southern District have reviewed Giuliani’s bank records possibly related to his dealings in Ukraine. Since early last year, prosecutors have been investigating Giuliani and two of his business associates, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, for their efforts to persuade Ukraine to initiate investigations into then-presidential candidate Joe Biden and his son Hunter, attempts to oust the U.S. ambassador to the country, and for potential campaign finance fraud. Parnas and Fruman were indicted in October 2019 for campaign finance fraud and wire fraud conspiracy in relation to a pro-Trump super PAC, reports NBC News. Both have pleaded not guilty. As of now, Giuliani has not been charged.
In February, prosecutors were reportedly contacting witnesses and collecting additional documents as they turned their focus to Giuliani. Subpoenas were sent to political donors and fundraising organizations to look into any business dealings any may have had with Giuliani or his firm partners, reports The Washington Post.
The investigation received renewed interest when former U.S. attorney for Manhattan, Geoffrey Berman, was fired in June. Much of the scrutiny against the decision centered on whether Berman’s dismissal was at all linked to his pursuit of Trump’s associates. But between the coronavirus pandemic impacting investigators’ ability to interview witnesses and the unwritten rule that the Justice Department advises prosecutors against bringing cases or making huge investigation announcements within 60 days of an election to avoid swaying an election for or against a candidate, the timeline of the investigation has been considerably drawn out.
“I have no reason to believe there’s any truth to the allegations that there is renewed interest in my client,” Robert Costello, Giuliani’s attorney, told NBC News in a statement.
Whether the two have discussed it or not, it seems like they would do well to work out a pardon quickly, because once Trump leaves office, he is vulnerable to a dozen legal investigations and civil suits of his own involving his business practices as well as his taxes.