Justice Dept: Officials would not have met with Giuliani if aware of investigation

The Justice Department (DOJ) on Sunday issued a statement saying officials would not have met with President TrumpDonald John TrumpMost Americans break with Trump on Ukraine, but just 45 percent think he should be removed: poll Judge orders Democrats to give notice if they request Trump's NY tax returns Trump's doctor issues letter addressing 'speculation' about visit to Walter Reed MORE’s personal attorney Rudy GiulianiRudy GiulianiDemocrats release two new transcripts ahead of next public impeachment hearings GOP senator calls impeachment 'sabotage' effort, raises questions about witness on eve of testimony Impeachment guide: The 9 witnesses testifying this week MORE to discuss a client if they had been aware that two of his associates were under federal investigation, according to The New York Times.

Brian Benczowski, head of the DOJ’s criminal division, joined attorneys from the division’s fraud section to discuss a bribery case involving a Giuliani client with him several weeks ago, shortly before the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York indicted Giuliani associates Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman in an alleged campaign finance scheme.

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“When Mr. Benczkowski and fraud section lawyers met with Mr. Giuliani, they were not aware of any investigation of Mr. Giuliani’s associates in the Southern District of New York and would not have met with him had they known,” Peter Carr, a department spokesman, said Sunday, according to the Times.

The statement comes amid revelations from State Department officials that Giuliani, a private citizen, has been extensively involved in U.S. foreign policy in his capacity as the president’s personal lawyer.

“This is an incredibly unusual statement from the Justice Department, which does not comment on ongoing investigations or even acknowledge them, and it’s the kind of statement that would give clients pause about who is representing them,” Joyce Vance, a former federal prosecutor, told the Times.

Giuliani himself is also reportedly under investigation by the Southern District of New York, although neither the U.S. Attorney’s Office nor the Justice Department would confirm or deny the existence of an investigation.

Vance told the Times the reports of the investigation could complicate Giuliani’s ability to attract new clients.

“Giuliani can continue to represent clients before the department because people are innocent until proven guilty, but it’s unclear whether a client would want to have a lawyer who is being scrutinized in so many investigations,” Vance said.

The Hill has reached out to Giuliani for comment.