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Judge orders special master to review Rudy Giuliani's electronic devices

WorldMay 28, 2021 01:15PM ET
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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Rudolph Giuliani, former Mayor of New York City, delivers a speech during the 2018 Iran Uprising Summit in Manhattan, New York, U.S., September 22, 2018. REUTERS/Amr Alfiky

By Jonathan Stempel

NEW YORK (Reuters) -A U.S. federal judge on Friday ordered an independent review of evidence from electronic devices seized in recent raids of Rudy Giuliani's home and office, rejecting Giuliani's effort to block it.

U.S. District Judge Paul Oetken in Manhattan said appointing a special master would "ensure the perception of fairness" in reviewing the 18 devices, including cellphones and computers, taken during the April 28 raids.

Federal prosecutors in Manhattan have been examining Giuliani's dealings in Ukraine, including whether he violated lobbying laws by acting as an unregistered foreign agent while working as a lawyer for then-U.S. President Donald Trump.

Robert Costello, a lawyer for Giuliani, said he considered it "inevitable" a special master would be appointed, "so this ruling comes as no surprise to us."

The office of U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss in Manhattan declined to comment.

Giuliani has not been charged, and after the raids he said that his conduct had been "absolutely legal and ethical."

A special master, typically a retired judge, would weed out communications covered by attorney-client privilege related to Giuliani's clients, including Trump, a fellow Republican.

Oetken rejected Giuliani's argument that the government should have sought his devices by subpoena, a less invasive process that would let Giuliani review the devices first.

"The search warrants at issue here were based on judicial findings of probable cause - supported by detailed affidavits - to believe that evidence of violations of specified federal offenses would be found at the locations to be searched," he wrote.

Oetken also rejected Giuliani's request to review documents detailing the basis for searching his devices and for a November 2019 search of his iCloud account, saying Giuliani was "not entitled to a preview of the government's evidence."

The special master would also review a device seized from Victoria Toensing, a lawyer who has worked with Giuliani.

Michael Bowe, a lawyer for Toensing, declined to comment.

Oetken ordered prosecutors and lawyers for Giuliani and Toensing to propose candidates for special master by June 4.

In seeking a special master, prosecutors cited their office's 2018 probe of another former Trump lawyer, Michael Cohen, where a special master reviewed materials seized from his home, office and a hotel room.

Cohen later pleaded guilty to campaign finance and other crimes.

The raids marked an aggressive new phase of a probe being conducted by the same U.S. Attorney's office that Giuliani led in the 1980s.

Giuliani later served as New York City's mayor, and won wide praise for his response to the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

He began representing Trump in April 2018 as Special Counsel Robert Mueller was probing Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

Giuliani also sought before the 2020 U.S. presidential election to uncover damaging information about Democrat Joe Biden, who defeated Trump, and Biden's son Hunter.

Judge orders special master to review Rudy Giuliani's electronic devices
 

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Comments (5)
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Ad Cline May 28, 2021 1:01PM ET
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this isn't about the Democrats this is about criminality, you know criminal fraud, conspiracy, payoffs, bribery, in Trump's inner circle.
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Ad Cline May 28, 2021 12:12PM ET
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now we have supporters of Donald Trump and his henchmen, defending and rationalizing the possibility of massive fraud and criminal conspiracy.
Chris Cummins
Chris Cummins May 28, 2021 11:01AM ET
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When I think of the GOP, this is the guy I picture. What an amazing patriot. His great leadership really shines through. And he is almost as beautiful as Trump.
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Ad Cline May 28, 2021 11:01AM ET
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ya ...a man that sold his soul to a crook that is on the verge of being indited for multiple frauds. Giuliani destroyed his reputation, and his professional future, by working for Trump, and if he doesn't cooperate with the DA in NY will probably go to jail.
Eudon Hickey
Eudon Hickey May 28, 2021 10:40AM ET
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Democrats are doing what Robert Mugabe did to his opposition
Mart Bab
Rubberduck1973 May 28, 2021 10:40AM ET
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You clearly don’t know anything about Robert Mugabe
Mase Gumbo
Mase Gumbo May 28, 2021 10:40AM ET
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hahaah..seriously? democrats actually restoring norms that orange looney was corrupting with his nuttery
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Ad Cline May 28, 2021 10:40AM ET
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no... the government is investigating criminal behavior by Trump and his inner circle.
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Ad Cline May 28, 2021 10:40AM ET
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Giuliani will have to come clean, and roll over on Trump and his organizations, or Giuliani is going to jail.
danny Levine
danny Levine May 28, 2021 10:35AM ET
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now the dems are attacking lawyers. this is not so different from Putin jailing Navalny
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danny Levine
danny Levine May 28, 2021 10:35AM ET
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Mart Bab duck. you clearly know nothing about political persecution
Mase Gumbo
Mase Gumbo May 28, 2021 10:35AM ET
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like you do you piece f garb...
Chris Cummins
Chris Cummins May 28, 2021 10:35AM ET
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Sorry Danny, the courts are going after criminals. I know you are opposed to your crooks going to jail but that doesn't make it wrong.
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Ad Cline May 28, 2021 10:35AM ET
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Danny levine supports crooks, there his kind of people, especially if there supporting what he supports ...bigotry, racism, strongman politics(fascist dictator wannabes).
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Ad Cline May 28, 2021 10:35AM ET
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Danny, I'm surprised that you support Navalny's release. I thought being such a great supporter of Putin's good buddy Donald Trump, you'd be lock step behind Navalny's arrest and imprisonments.
 
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