Giuliani's text messages fair game for FBI, retired judge rules
New York, New York - Federal investigators will get their hands on more than half the messages on one of Rudy Giuliani’s cell phones, a retired judge wrote Friday, rejecting the former New York mayor’s claims the texts should be off-limits.
The ex-judge, Barbara Jones, is serving as court-appointed special master reviewing materials seized from Giuliani’s law office and Upper East Side in April.
Giuliani’s defense team had marked 96 messages as "privileged and/or highly personal" on the mobile phone, arguing they should not be turned over to Manhattan federal prosecutors investigating Giuliani for possible violations of foreign lobbying laws in connection with his work in Ukraine. Giuliani played a key role in President Donald Trump’s effort to dig up dirt on then-Democratic rival Joe Biden.
The special master wrote that 56 of the messages were fair game for the feds. The other 40, Jones wrote, could remain confidential.
Giuliani, who worked as Trump’s personal attorney, claimed many of the messages were protected by attorney-client privilege.
Giuliani "not immune from searches" as lawyer
The 96 messages at issue in Jones’ decision Friday make up a minuscule portion of the thousands of texts sent from Giuliani’s devices that are now in the hands of the FBI.
Jones also ruled that more than 3,000 items sent over a six-month span in 2018 and 2019 from other devices belonging to Giuliani had to be turned over to federal officials. Giuliani’s team had not opposed any of those being released to prosecutors.
The FBI also seized cell phones belonging to Washington lawyer Victoria Toensing, a former federal prosecutor and ally of Giuliani and Trump, in connection with the investigation. She also argued that much of her materials should be off-limits.
"Giuliani and Toensing contend that their status as lawyers, including Giuliani’s status as a lawyer to the former president, makes these searches problematic," Manhattan Federal Judge Paul Oetken wrote after the raid. "But lawyers are not immune from searches in criminal investigations."
Giuliani has been under investigation for about three years by Manhattan federal prosecutors. He has also been subpoenaed by the January 6 committee investigating the Capitol attack for his role in the day's events.
Cover photo: IMAGO / ZUMA Wire