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NYT: DOJ distances itself from Rudy Giuliani

 A press briefing held by Rudy Giuliani in Warsaw
Photo: Siavosh Hosseini/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Department of Justice officials wouldn't have met with Rudy Giuliani about a fraud case had they known that federal prosecutors were investigating two of his business associates, a DOJ official told the New York Times Sunday.

Why it matters: The highly unusual statement by DOJ spokesperson Peter Carr to the NYT clearly distances the department from President Trump's personal lawyer, whose associates Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman have been indicted in New York on campaign finance charges.

  • Guliani's business dealings with Ukraine are being investigated by federal prosecutors in the New York case against his associates. He's also at the center of the impeachment inquiry for allegedly trying to press Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden over unsubstantiated corruption allegations.

What they're saying: Brian Benczkowski, the head of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, and other top Justice Department officials met with Giuliani before the pair was charged to discuss a fraud case "in which he and other attorneys were representing the defendants," per the Times.

"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."
— Carr's statement to the NYT

Go deeper: Trump's Rudy problem