Meet the bizarre cast of characters involved in the Rudy Giuliani probe
Former Mayor Rudy Giuliani of New York speaking at a forum titled “Countering Iran’s Nuclear Terrorist Threats” hosted by the Iranian American Community of Arizona in Phoenix, Arizona. (Gage Skidmoer/Flickr)

Before he was elected mayor of New York City in 1993, Republican Rudy Giuliani was a federal prosecutor for the Southern District of New York — and he had a reputation for being tough, focused and aggressive. But now, ironically, Giuliani finds himself being investigated by the U.S. Department of Justice. His home and office in Manhattan were recently searched as part of a DOJ investigation of his Ukraine-related activities of the Trump era. And CNN's Marshall Cohen offers some insights on those search warrants in an article published on May 7.

Cohen explains, "The Justice Department's criminal investigation into Rudy Giuliani involves an international cast of characters: Trump White House allies, Republican lawyers, Ukrainian oligarchs, diplomats, right-wing journalists and other figures who aren't household names…. Giuliani has denied all wrongdoing and claimed the investigation itself is unconstitutional."

Cohen goes on to offer a "breakdown" of "the dozen Americans and Ukrainians who CNN has confirmed were mentioned by name in the search warrants against Giuliani." Although there may be others mentioned in the warrants, Cohen notes, the people discussed in his article are the ones CNN has confirmed.

The 12 include Florida-based businessmen Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman; Florida-based businessman David Correia, an associate of Parnas and Fruman; former Ukraine prosecutors general Viktor Shokin and Yuriy Lutsenko; Kostiantyn Kulyk, a former Ukrainian official who worked under Lutsenko; attorneys Victoria Toensing and Joe diGenova; conservative pundit John Solomon, known for his work with The Hill and the Washington Post in the past; former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko; Glib Zagoriy, who served in the Ukrainian parliament; and Ukrainian Deputy Prosecutor General Gyunduz Mamedov.

In 2019, then-President Donald Trump was impeached by House Democrats after trying to bully Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky into helping him dig up dirt on now-President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter Biden. And House Democrats who pushed for the impeachment, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Rep. Adam Schiff of California, stressed that Trump seriously crossed the line by asking a foreign leader to investigate a political rival and withholding military aid to Ukraine in the hope of getting that investigation.

Trump loyalist Giuliani tirelessly railed against that impeachment in 2019 and went out of his way to smear the Bidens, promoting the far-right conspiracy theory that the real election interference in 2016 wasn't Russia interfering on behalf of Trump, but Ukraine interfering on behalf of 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.

Cohen notes that Parnas, who paid Giuliani for half a million dollars of consulting work in 2018, "publicly flipped on Trump and Giuliani and implicated them in the anti-Biden schemes in Ukraine" and "assisted House Democrats with their impeachment inquiry against Trump in 2019." And Fruman, Cohen points out, "worked closely with Parnas and Giuliani to dig up dirt on the Bidens in Ukraine."

Shokin, according to Cohen, "allied with Giuliani to spread false claims of corruption against (Joe) Biden" and "falsely claimed he was fired because he was investigating Burisma, a Ukrainian energy company where Biden's son served on the board."