Prosecutors for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Manhattan moved for the special master’s appointment, citing precedent from a similar seizure of information by former Trump attorney Michael Cohen in 2019.
The judge denied a request from Giuliani’s lawyers that the FBI’s seizure of 18 computers and other devices should essentially be reversed and that prosecutors act instead by submitting information from Giuliani and letting him decide what to respond produce is.
Oetken also denied a request from Giuliani’s lawyers for the return of information secretly confiscated from his iCloud account in 2019 and access to the affidavits the government filed to obtain the search warrants. The judge said Giuliani appeared to be trying to glimpse the government’s investigation into him, but he does not currently have that right.
“He is not entitled to a preview of government evidence in an ongoing investigation before being charged with a crime,” wrote Oetken, a representative for former President Barack Obama. “If Giuliani is charged with a crime, he is of course entitled to produce the affidavits for the search warrant. … However, such disclosure is premature at the moment. “
Giuliani has been scrutinized by federal prosecutors for his work related to Ukraine in 2019 and 2020, pending investigations there that may have proven politically harmful to President Joe Biden, who was a strong potential challenger at the time was considered to be Trump.
Giuliani has alleged that his Ukraine-related efforts were made on behalf of Trump, but prosecutors appear to believe that the former New York City mayor attempted to influence U.S. government decisions on behalf of Ukrainian officials or individuals . Giuliani’s attorneys have stated that prosecutors are investigating possible violations of the Foreign Agents Registration Act and related criminal law that prohibits acting as an agent of a foreign government in the United States without registering.
Oetken also turned down parallel requests from Victoria Toensing, a Washington area attorney whose phone was confiscated the same day as the raids against Giuliani and who was also working on Ukraine-related matters. Her phone was returned, but she appeared to ask the government to delete the information she got from the device and from a previous search of her online accounts.
“Lawyers are not immune to searches in a criminal investigation,” the judge wrote. “These materials were obtained on probable grounds based on search warrants, and the government investigation is ongoing. There is nothing inappropriate or illegal about the government keeping them. “
Both Giuliani and Toensing will be able to review the seized materials like the special master and make suggestions on what should be withheld from investigators as privileged, Oetken said. He did not immediately name someone who would act as a special master in the case, but asked both sides to submit proposals by June 4th.