Rudy Giuliani's lawyer says he had 'no idea' a Ukrainian oligarch's company bankrolled his travel expenses

·3 min read
Rudy Giuliani's lawyer says he had 'no idea' a Ukrainian oligarch's company bankrolled his travel expenses
Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani speaks during a news conference in Miami in July 2021.
Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani speaks during a news conference in Miami in July 2021.Matias J. Ocner/Miami Herald/Tribune News Service
  • A company owned by the Ukrainian oligarch Dmitry Firtash covered tens of thousands of dollars in Rudy Giuliani's travel expenses, NYT reported.

  • Giuliani's lawyer, Bob Costello, said his client had "no idea" Firtash paid for those trips in 2019.

  • Firtash's lawyer, Lanny Davis, said his client didn't authorize the expenses and attributed them to an assistant's "error."

A company owned by a prominent Ukrainian oligarch covered thousands of dollars in former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani's travel expenses in the summer of 2019, The New York Times reported.

At the time, Giuliani was working as President Donald Trump's personal lawyer and spearheading an effort to dig up dirt on the Biden family in Ukraine.

According to The Times, in the summer of 2019, Firtash's company bankrolled Giuliani's stay at a five-star hotel and also arranged for him to fly on a private jet.

Robert Costello, Giuliani's lawyer, told The Times that his client had "no idea that Firtash was paying for those trips" and that "he certainly would not have allowed it if he had known."

Firtash's lawyer, Lanny Davis, also said that "as far as Mr. Firtash knew, he never paid for or authorized any funds to be paid for Giuliani."

Davis attributed the payments to "an inadvertent error" by one of Firtash's assistants, The Times said, who didn't notice Giuliani's expenses and paid for them "without Mr. Firtash's knowledge or authority."

The payments themselves do not appear to have violated any laws. But Giuliani's broader campaign to dig up dirt on the Bidens came under prosecutorial scrutiny in 2019 as investigators began examining whether he broke foreign lobbying laws.

Specifically, the Manhattan US attorney's office wanted to know if Giuliani's efforts in Ukraine were carried out solely in his capacity as Trump's lawyer or whether he was also working on behalf of foreign interests who believed they would benefit from Trump's reelection.

News of the investigation broke in October 2019, but it entered an aggressive new phase in April 2021 when FBI agents raided Giuliani's apartment, his office, and the home of Victoria Toensing, an associate of his in Washington, DC. They seized 18 electronic devices belonging to Giuliani and also seized devices belonging to his longtime personal assistant Jo Ann Zafonte.

Last year, it also surfaced that prosecutors had secured a search warrant in November 2019 to scour Giuliani's iCloud account as part of their investigation.

Costello sent a letter to the judge overseeing the case raising "serious concern over the broad and sweeping nature of the searches executed on an attorney's home and law office, and the covert search and review of the same attorney's iCloud account in 2019," as well as the government's decision not to inform Giuliani about the search until a year and a half later.

Costello's letter also revealed that prosecutors felt "there is reason to believe that notification of the existence of this warrant will result in destruction of or tampering with evidence, and/or tamping [sic] with potential witnesses, or otherwise will seriously jeopardize an ongoing investigation."

The Times reported this week that the investigation has since wound down and will likely close without any charges filed against the former New York mayor. Giuliani met with prosecutors in February and answered their questions, a move his lawyers would not have allowed if they believed he was in legal jeopardy. Investigators also recently returned Giuliani's devices to him, according to The Times, a sign that they did not discover anything incriminating in their search.

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