The FBI’s investigation into President Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani just got a lot more interesting thanks to a previously unknown counterintelligence factor that could drastically change the entire case.
On Wednesday, CNN reported that investigators from the Manhattan US attorney’s office questioned NY attorney Kevin McCallion earlier this year about Giuliani’s link to two Soviet-born men, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, who were recently arrested and charged with violating campaign finance laws and trying to pump foreign funds into US campaigns.
Former federal prosecutor Jeffrey Cramer worked at the Justice Department for 2 years and said investigators are “casting a wide net.” Cramer said, “Cases like these, and they aren’t common, usually involve multiple schemes and numerous player… As such, they touch upon many different possible criminal violations.”
Attorney McCallion told CNN that FBI officials have also asked him about Giuliani’s business dealings in Ukraine.
McCallion told CNN “I was just asked whether I or any of my clients knew of any dealings that these two guys had with Giuliani…They were on the radar with regard to possible counterintelligence issues.”
The investigations is apparently honing in on whether a foreign influence operation attempted to use Giuliani’s financial interests in Ukraine as a way into the White House. Giuliani is also under fire for his keen intent to get Ukraine to investigate former Vice President and current presidential candidate Joe Biden and his son on the grounds of corruption.
Giuliani is ALSO under CRIMINAL investigation, completely separate from the counterintelligence one, for his potentially illegal part in the sudden firing of the US’s former ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch. The question remains as to whether or not foreign lobbying laws were broken during that process.
Prosecutors in that case are said to be investigating whether the former New York mayor was working specifically on the behalf of the Ukrainian prosecutor general, Yuriy Lutsenko.
The Southern District of New York has long been known for operating itself in an entirely different manner from the Justice Department’s headquarters in Washington, DC. So much so that it has earned the nickname the “Sovereign District of New York” and it is apparently investigating MUCH more about Giuliani and his past than has been reported before.
Part of the investigation is said to be looking particularly into who might have financed Giuliani’s work in Ukraine- work that involved Parnas and Fruman and lobbying the Ukrainian government. on behalf of Kharkiv, a small town located in eastern Ukraine.
Former FBI special agent Asha Rangappa said on Twitter that the mere existence of such an investigation already proves that the FBI believes “he may post a national security threat to the United States.”
Rangapppa also said it’s important to note that counterintelligence investigations are different from criminal investigations in that they aren’t concerned with violations of US laws as much as they are with whether or not the person under investigation was in contact with people linked to foreign intelligence. Since Giuliani is also a US national and the president’s attorney, the bar for opening this type of investigation is considerably higher.
“So basically, the FBI thinks something bad — and likely not ‘unwitting’ — is up… That Giuliani is a conduit for pushing the agendas of foreign intelligence and/or foreign interests.”
Former FBI Special Agent Asha Rangappa
Rangappa also pointed out that in SOME cases, it’s possible for criminal investigations and counterintelligence investigations to be include each other, although they are typically separate. Previous reports suggest that it COULD be the case in the Giuliani investigation, with the accusations that he violated the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA).
As if all this isn’t enough controversy to surround Giuliani, White House aides have raised concerns that he has repeatedly pushed President Trump to extradite controversial Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen to the Turkish government.
Gulen, who was accused by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for organizing a failed coup in 2016, is currently in exile in Pennsylvania. Hisand has been accused by T of orchestrating a failed 2016 coup against him and of generally fomenting dissent within Turkey. Gulen denies any involvement in the attempted coup.
Erdogan has been pushing the US to extradite Gulen and Giuliani’s involvement in that raise suspicions about the extent to which he tried to influence government policy as a private citizen.
The Washington Post also reported that Giuliani brought up the Gulen extradition so much that one former official dubbed it his “hobby horse.”
Another official said, “It was all Gulen,” and White House aides even worried that Giuliani was so involved with it that they feared he was working for the Turkish government.