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The real dirt dig is underway

Rudy Giuliani, then-personal lawyer of former president Donald

Rudy Giuliani, then-personal lawyer of former president Donald Trump during an appearance before the Michigan House Oversight Committee in Lansing, Michigan on Dec. 2, 2020. Credit: AFP via Getty Images/JEFF KOWALSKY

The arc of the Rudy Giuliani story has shot well beyond any discussion of how he devolved over the long haul from independent-minded prosecutor and crisis-time mayor into a dubious Donald Trump factotum who lied about national election ballots.

Now Giuliani, 76, is indisputably the focus of keen interest for criminal investigators of a Justice Department no longer under Trump's purview, and the ex-mayor's cooperation or resistance will be key.

On Wednesday, his lawyer Robert Costello publicly confirmed that federal investigators in Manhattan executed a search warrant on Giuliani's apartment that involved his controversial Ukraine activities. Electronic devices were seized.

Costello said the hubbub is all about possible violations of the Foreign Agents Registration Act, a law utilized in the investigation of Russian contacts in the first Trump campaign.

The current federal probes could get underneath some factual stones about the Ukraine effort to muddy up Democrats, including now-President Joe Biden, that may have been left unturned during Trump's first congressional impeachment.

Suspense seems to center on exactly what information and input Giuliani gives up, and how much as Trump's then-attorney he could retroactively hurt his former client. In a sense, this invites a Michael Cohen déjà vu. That former Trump lawyer ended up in prison partly due to his private actions on behalf of "45."

As word spread of Giuliani's latest troubles, Cohen, who'd dramatically flipped, tweeted: "Here we go, folks!!!" Three years ago this month, the same U.S. attorney's office raided Cohen's apartment and offices, which started his undoing.

Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, former business associates of Giuliani, have pleaded not guilty to pending charges that include funneling foreign money to a U.S. congressman to help push out Marie Yovanovitch as U.S. ambassador to Ukraine. They were reported to be helpers in Giuliani's dirt-dig. Costello told reporters Wednesday that probers sought communications with many individuals, including the former associates.

The old GOP power clique is under siege. A newly-initiated member is Giuliani's adult son, Andrew, who said he's planning a run for governor. His only public role has been as a minor White House aide to Trump. The younger Giuliani made it clear after the raid, on the sidewalk outside, that he'd seek office as a gesticulating Trump defender.

"The only piece of evidence that they did not take up there today is the only piece of incriminating evidence that is in there. And it does not belong to my father. It belongs to the current president's son," Andrew Giuliani said with an inherited helping of highly dubious credibility. It was the performance of a Donald Trump Jr. in the making.

But the day's drama wasn't all set in New York. Also Wednesday, FBI agents raided the home in the Washington D.C. area of Victoria Toensing, who also procured negative statements about what the group supposed and claimed to be Democratic intrigue in Ukraine. Her phone reportedly was sought.

What's clear but not often stated is that Giuliani, Trump and their cohorts seem to have buried themselves in infinitely more dirt and scandal than they ever managed to dig up on their political foes.

We're still only on the edge of finding out in detail just how deep the mound goes, and what it will mean for the man who still sways the national Republican Party.

Dan Janison is a member of the Newsday editorial board.

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