Biden Says He Was Unaware of Giuliani Raid, Won’t Be Briefed
(Bloomberg) -- President Joe Biden said he didn’t know ahead of time that the FBI planned to raid Rudy Giuliani’s apartment on Wednesday and that he doesn’t want a briefing on the case against former President Donald Trump’s one-time lawyer.
“I learned about that last night when the world learned about it. My word,” Biden said in an NBC News interview taped Thursday. “I had no idea this was underway.”
Some Giuliani allies including his son, Andrew Giuliani, who has said he plans to run for governor of New York as a Republican, accused the Justice Department of pursuing the former mayor of New York for political reasons after the raid, in which the FBI seized the elder Giuliani’s electronic devices.
Biden said he hasn’t been briefed on the probe and won’t request a briefing on the Giuliani matter or any other investigations involving Trump.
“The Justice Department is the people’s lawyer, not the president’s lawyer,” he said in the interview.
Federal agents executed a search warrant to seize evidence from Giuliani as part of a probe into his efforts to dig up dirt on Biden in Ukraine during the 2020 election.
The raid signaled the investigation has intensified. Carrying out a warrant on a lawyer, especially one representing a former president, is an extraordinary step. Legal experts said it shows prosecutors could be nearing an indictment.
Biden’s comments suggest he is distancing himself from the Giuliani probe. His remarks also drew a contrast with Trump, who frequently implored the Justice Department to investigate and prosecute his political rivals. Biden promised during the campaign that the department would operate independent of partisan politics.
“I made a pledge I would not interfere in any way, order or try to stop any investigation the Justice Department had underway,” Biden told NBC. “This last administration politicized the Justice Department so badly.”
Federal prosecutors in New York had sought approval for a Giuliani warrant from the Justice Department for months, but senior officials declined to sign off during Trump’s presidency.
The officials balked at approving the warrant so close to the 2020 presidential election and during Trump’s challenges of the results, according to one person familiar with the matter. Giuliani served as Trump’s lawyer and made unfounded allegations that widespread fraud tainted the election result.
Justice Department leaders under Biden dropped any objections and approved the warrant in recent weeks, the person said.
The federal probe is said to touch in part on whether Giuliani illegally failed to disclose to the government that he was lobbying on behalf of a foreign entity in relation to his activities in Ukraine.
Robert Costello, Giuliani’s lawyer, denied any wrongdoing by his client and accused the federal government of carrying out a politically motivated investigation.
“Mr. Giuliani respects the law, and he can demonstrate that his conduct as a lawyer and a citizen was absolutely legal and ethical,” Costello said.
©2021 Bloomberg L.P.