Prosecutors seek ‘special master’ to review Giuliani’s articles


NEW YORK (AP) – Federal prosecutors have asked a judge to appoint a “special master” to review documents seized by the FBI last week from Rudy Giuliani and ensure investigators are unable to see the records protected by solicitor-client privilege, according to unsealed court records Tuesday.

In a letter dated Thursday, prosecutors called for the surveillance, citing in part Giuliani’s work as counsel for former President Donald Trump.

They noted it would be similar to what happened after federal agents seized electronic devices three years ago from the home and office of Michael Cohen, who was also one of Trump’s attorneys.

Cohen eventually pleaded guilty to violations of the campaign finance law and other crimes and was sentenced to three years in prison. After about a year in prison, he was taken into house arrest because the coronavirus threat led to the early release of some non-violent prisoners.

The federal investigation examines Giuliani’s interactions with prominent Ukrainian figures and whether he violated a federal law that governs lobbying on behalf of foreign countries or entities.

Giuliani, a Republican and former New York City mayor, has not been charged with a felony. He said all of his activities in Ukraine were carried out on behalf of Trump. At the time, Giuliani was leading a campaign to pressure Ukraine for an investigation into Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, before Biden was elected president.

Last Wednesday, FBI agents recovered several electronic devices during a morning search of Giuliani’s home and office.

In their letter, prosecutors said the search was carried out on Giuliani by FBI agents who were not involved in the investigation and will not be involved in the future.

They said in the letter to U.S. District Judge J. Paul Oetken, a day after the searches, that FBI technical specialists had started extracting materials from the seized devices, but had yet to begin examining them.

Oetken authorized some redactions before the government’s letter was unsealed, including parts specifying what was taken from Giuliani and Washington attorney Victoria Toensing, a former federal prosecutor and close ally of Giuliani and Trump. Her law firm said after the searches that she was told she was not the target of the investigation.

Oetken has a schedule in place for legal filings starting next week.

Giuliani opposed the seizure in part because he claims the material on the devices would be subject to solicitor-client privilege – the client being Trump. Courts sometimes appoint a lawyer who is not directly involved in the case, known as a special master, to address these concerns.

In more ordinary cases, a review of documents seized from a lawyer may be carried out by a government “filter team” or a magistrate judge.

But they wrote that the government found it appropriate to appoint an outside master in the Giuliani inquiry to determine what should be protected by solicitor-client privilege in part because of “the open and public nature of these warrants.”

They then quoted Judge Kimba Wood from the Cohen case when she said that a captain was appropriate for “the perception of fairness, not fairness itself.” Wood has appointed a former Manhattan federal judge to lead the oversight.

Citing a terrorist investigation by a lawyer 20 years ago, prosecutors said a government “corruption team” was commonly used, but added that the appointment of a master may be appropriate when the lawyer represents the American president.

A lawyer for Giuliani did not immediately return a request for comment on Tuesday. A spokesperson for prosecutors declined to comment.


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