NEW YORK – A judge said Friday he was appointing a former federal judge to oversee a review of materials seized in raids on the home and office of Rudy Giuliani, who served as former president Donald Trump's personal lawyer.
U.S. District Judge J. Paul Oetken announced in a brief written order that he was appointing Barbara Jones as “special master” in the review once she confirmed that she has no disqualifying conflict of interest. Shortly afterward, she submitted a declaration saying she had no conflicts.
In July 2016, Jones — who served as a Manhattan federal judge from 1995 to 2013 — joined the law firm Bracewell and Giuliani, which Giuliani himself had left six months earlier.
In a letter submitted to Oetken by prosecutors late Thursday on behalf of all parties, prosecutors wrote that Giuliani and Washington attorney Victoria Toensing, whose cell phone was taken by investigators, both agreed to the appointment of Jones through their lawyers and did not believe she had a conflict of interest.
Oetken said he agreed that appointing Jones would be “in the interests of justice.”
Jones served the same role after 2018 raids on the home and office of Michael Cohen, Trump's former personal attorney. Cohen pleaded guilty to campaign finance and other charges and was sentenced to three years in prison, though he was released to home confinement last year after one year as the coronavirus spread through prisons.
Prosecutors are examining Giuliani’s interactions with Ukrainian figures and whether he violated a law governing lobbying on behalf of foreign countries or entities. A law firm representing Toensing, a former federal prosecutor and close ally of Giuliani and Trump, has said Toensing was told she was not a target of the investigation.
In their letter recommending Jones, prosecutors wrote that she had “'efficiently and meticulously reviewed' tens of thousands of items over a period of four months and made privilege designations that were not objected to by the parties" in the Cohen case.
So far, prosecutors have said they have successfully downloaded 11 electronic devices belonging to Giuliani and returned them to him. They say seven more devices belonging to Giuliani and others at his firm, Giuliani Partners LLC, will require more time to unlock because they lack a passcode.
Giuliani, a Republican and former mayor of New York City, has not been charged with a crime. He has said all of his activities in Ukraine were conducted on behalf of Trump. At the time, Giuliani was leading a campaign to press Ukraine for an investigation into Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, before Biden was elected president.