Investigators from the Southern District of New York were gaining momentum last summer in their inquiry into whether Rudy Giuliani had illegally lobbied the Trump administration on behalf of the Ukrainian interests who aided his search for compromising information on the Biden family. But according to a report from the New York Times, that effort stalled as senior political appointees at the Department of Justice repeatedly tried to block the SDNY from obtaining search warrants into the electronic records of the former president’s personal lawyer.
The stalling tactics largely had to do with the November election. Traditionally, the Department of Justice avoids taking actions in the two months prior to the vote that could significantly affect its outcome. And while the DOJ did observe this hiatus, the Times reports that the department also used it as a rationale not to issue Giuliani a search warrant in the summer, well before the 60-day cutoff. After Trump’s November loss, the DOJ still resisted prosecutors’ request for a search warrant for Rudy Giuliani’s records, citing the legal effort to contest the election that Giuliani himself was leading.
It appears that all politically sensitive investigations were not treated equally at the Department of Justice during the final days of the Trump administration. Though the DOJ refused to sign off on search warrants for Giuliani after the election, the department did give the go-ahead for federal prosecutors in Delaware to issue subpoenas for an investigation into Hunter Biden’s taxes. And though political appointees reportedly doubted there would be enough evidence to charge Giuliani, the Times reports that career officials at the department “felt there was sufficient reason to believe that the search would turn up evidence of a crime, the legal standard to obtain a warrant.”
The decision to approve a warrant in the sensitive case was ultimately passed on until President Biden’s administration took over; to date, it is not known if prosecutors have successfully obtained a warrant in the first four weeks of the new administration.