By Aram Roston
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Federal prosecutors in New York are seeking records of payments to Rudy Giuliani, U.S. President Donald Trump’s lawyer, as part of an active criminal investigation, according to a grand jury subpoena seen by Reuters.
The subpoena does not indicate that Giuliani is suspected of wrongdoing. But the crimes being investigated, it says, include money laundering, wire fraud, campaign finance violations, making false statements, obstruction of justice, and violations of the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA). It requires disclosure of lobbying on behalf of foreign interests.
The subpoena requests that the recipient provide “all documents, including correspondence, with or related to Rudolph Giuliani, Giuliani Partners or any related person or entity,” referring to his consulting company. The subpoena also seeks all "documents related to any actual or potential payments, or agreements to or with Giuliani."
The text of the subpoena has not been previously reported. The subpoena was shown to Reuters on condition that the recipient not be identified.
Giuliani's lawyer Robert Costello said that he had not seen the subpoena, but if reports of the subpoena were correct that suggested "maybe they want to ask us questions."
"Frankly all they have to do is pick up the phone. All this is character assassination," Costello said, adding that he was not aware of an investigation by U.S. prosecutors into Giuliani, a former prosecutor and mayor of New York City.
The subpoena shows that prosecutors are examining payments to Giuliani as they investigate two of his associates, Florida businessmen Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, who pleaded not guilty last month to charges that they illegally funneled money to election candidates.
Spokesman James Margolin for the U.S. Attorney's office in Manhattan declined to comment. Parnas' lawyer, Joseph Bondy, declined to comment. Todd Blanche, Fruman's lawyer, was not immediately available for comment.
Parnas has also acknowledged playing a role in aiding Giuliani in trying to dig up dirt on Joe Biden, the former vice president who is a leading contender for the Democratic nomination in the 2020 presidential election to run against Republican Trump.
Giuliani has emerged as a central figure in a Democratic-led impeachment inquiry in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Lawmakers are investigating whether Trump abused his office for personal political gain in pressing Ukraine to investigate Biden and his son Hunter, who served as a director on the board of a Ukrainian energy company.
It has been previously reported that prosecutors are investigating whether Giuliani had violated FARA.
Reuters could not determine why prosecutors are asking about the payments, or potential payments, to Giuliani. Reuters first reported in October that Giuliani received $500,000 in 2018 to work on behalf of a company called Fraud Guarantee, co-founded by Parnas.
(Reporting by Aram Roston, additional reporting by Karen Freifeld; editing by Ross Colvin and Grant McCool)