The FBI’s search of Rudy Giuliani’s office this week signals that federal law enforcement is significantly ramping up its investigation into former President Trump’s ally and onetime legal adviser.

Little is known about the scope of the investigation, but reporting suggests that the focus could be on Giuliani’s work on behalf of foreign clients, including Ukraine, and his failure to register as a foreign agent while serving as the president’s personal attorney.

And former Department of Justice officials say that such an investigation into a high-profile lawyer that could jeopardize attorney-client privilege would likely need authorization from some of the highest-ranking law enforcement officials in the government.ADVERTISEMENT

Giuliani’s home and law office were searched at dawn Wednesday, with FBI agents seizing as many as eight of Giuliani’s electronics.

It’s a remarkable development for a high-level Trump associate who avoided formal Justice Department action even as others in Trump’s orbit were implicated in former special counsel Robert Mueller‘s investigation.

“This is not any attorney. It’s the former U.S. attorney and mayor and very prominent ally of the previous president so you can just be certain that the procedural requirement was on steroids here,” said Harry Litman, a former U.S. attorney and deputy assistant attorney general during the Clinton administration.

“This is something where everyone wants to make sure the I’s are dotted and the T’s are crossed.”

David Laufman, who oversaw foreign agent investigations as the former head of the Justice Department’s counterintelligence squad, also said the department has procedures in place to ensure such high-profile investigations are properly reviewed and outside “filter teams” are used to screen information that could be protected under attorney-client privilege.

“Seeking search warrants of the residence and electronic devices of prominent lawyers previously working for the president of the United States are going to get the highest level of scrutiny at Justice Department leadership levels,” said Laufman, now a partner at the law firm Wiggin and Dana. “As they should.”ADVERTISEMENT

Giuliani, who has represented Ukrainian oligarchs, faces questions on whether he violated the law by failing to register as a foreign agent for his work advocating on behalf of Ukrainian officials. Law enforcement were also seeking information on Giuliani’s role in seeking to push former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch from her post, according to reporting from The New York Times. 

In 2019, Giuliani had reportedly been in negotiations to do work on behalf of Ukrainian officials like Yuriy Lutsenko, the country’s former top prosecutor who wanted Yovanovitch fired. According to the Times, Giuliani signed one of the various proposed retainers that had been presented but ultimately decided against doing the work.

The former New York mayor said there was “no justification for that warrant” during an interview with Fox News’s Tucker Carlson Thursday night. He’s denied any wrongdoing, saying that he’s never agreed to lobby the U.S. government on behalf of any Ukrainian clients.

“I’ve never represented a Ukrainian national or official before the United States government. I’ve declined it several times,” Giuliani said.