“This was a show of force that sent a strong message to a lot of people in Trump’s world that other things may be coming down the pipeline,” one Trump adviser told CNN.
The searches, which Giuliani and his attorney Robert Costello have criticized as unnecessary due to what they claim is his ongoing cooperation with investigators, were linked to a criminal probe of the former mayor’s business dealings in Ukraine and resulted in the seizure of several communications devices.
According to the Trump adviser, the raid ignited a sense of fear inside the former President’s orbit that Justice Department officials may be more willing to pursue investigations of the 45th president or his inner circle than many Trump allies had previously believed. Two other people close to the former President, who echoed these sentiments, declined to be quoted for this story.
New York State Attorney General Letitia James is currently conducting a civil probe into allegations that the Trump Organization improperly inflated and deflated the value of its assets for tax purposes. Trump has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing.
“I can’t for the life of me think why you would need to send seven FBI agents to go and collect a cellphone and laptop,” said the adviser, who also described the Giuliani raid as “overkill.”
But the raid has also raised the question of whether Giuliani’s seemingly steadfast loyalty to Trump could withstand the weight of potential criminal charges. Giuliani has not been charged and has denied any wrongdoing.
“Even the most loyal people have their breaking point,” said a person close to the former President. The Trump adviser separately added that a potential shift in Giuliani’s fealty to his former client “wouldn’t shock me at all.”
“I think we’ve seen some more surprising instances of things like that happening, especially with Michael Cohen,” the person close to Trump said.
Indeed, longtime Trump fixer Michael Cohen, who once said he would be willing to “take a bullet” for his former boss, became a self-avowed Trump critic in 2018 after he flipped on the then-President following an FBI raid of his own home, office and hotel room. The raid was part of a probe led by the US Attorney’s office for the Southern District of New York, which later resulted in charges of tax fraud, false statements to a bank and campaign finance violations that Cohen pleaded guilty to.
During an appearance on CNN earlier this week, Cohen himself speculated that Giuliani could “give up Donald in a heartbeat” if faced with an indictment.
“Prior to Donald becoming president, Rudy didn’t like Donald and Donald didn’t like Rudy,” Cohen claimed. “He certainly doesn’t want to follow my path down into a 36-month sentence.”
A spokesperson for Trump did not respond to CNN’s request for comment in time for publication.
In an email to CNN, Costello said the former mayor “has done nothing wrong” and claimed that Giuliani has repeatedly offered “to answer any questions the SDNY might have about anything including crimes, attempted crimes, conspiracy to commit crimes, (or) aiding and abetting crimes.”
In a statement released by Costello earlier this week, Giuliani denied any wrongdoing and claimed the search warrants that resulted in raids of his office and apartment indicated a “corrupt double standard” by the Justice Department in its treatment of Trump associates versus Democrats.
“Republicans who are prominent supporters and defenders of President Trump… are subjected to false charges and procedures used in the past, if at all, in cases involving terrorists and organized criminals,” read the statement.