President Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudolph W. Giuliani, said on Wednesday that he had assembled a legal team to represent him in the criminal investigation into his activities related to Ukraine, an announcement that came after weeks of sputtered attempts to find a lawyer willing to take him on as a client.
Mr. Giuliani said on Twitter that he would be represented by three lawyers, including his longtime friend, Robert J. Costello. The hires show how serious Mr. Giuliani is treating the inquiry by federal prosectors in Manhattan, who are investigating whether he violated lobbying laws in his efforts to dig up damaging information about Mr. Trump’s rivals.
“The evidence, when revealed fully, will show that this present farce is as much a frame-up and hoax as Russian collusion, maybe worse, and will prove the President is innocent,” Mr. Giuliani said on Twitter, just before naming his new lawyers.
The hires came after a weekslong search to find a lawyer who would represent Mr. Giuliani, who rose to prominence as the United States attorney for the Southern District of New York, the same office that is now investigating him. He has a wide range of close associates — including former prosecutors and judges — who could have taken him on as a client.
But at least four prominent attorneys declined for various reasons, according to people familiar with the matter. They included Mary Jo White, who also once led the United States attorney’s office for the Southern District, as well as Theodore V. Wells Jr., a trial lawyer at Paul, Weiss, according to people familiar with those discussions.
Another was Daniel L. Stein, a former senior prosecutor who recently held top posts in the Southern District, where he oversaw the prosecutions of public officials including Sheldon Silver, the former speaker of the New York State Assembly, and Dean Skelos, the State Senate majority leader.
Mr. Stein, whose tenure and relationships in the Southern District would afford him credibility with prosecutors there, negotiated with Mr. Giuliani for two weeks and seemed close to reaching an agreement. But the deal ultimately fizzled because of a conflict at Mr. Stein’s firm, Mayer Brown, according to one person with knowledge of the matter.
Paul L. Shechtman, a partner at the law firm Bracewell and a former prosecutor who worked in federal and state courts in Manhattan, was approached roughly two weeks ago about representing Mr. Giuliani, who is also the former mayor of New York. But the firm, where Mr. Giuliani once worked, rejected the idea, according to two people with knowledge of the matter.
Big law firms are, for the most part, conservative institutions that often represent a wide range of clients with varying business interests, many of whom tend to shy away from controversy, regardless of their politics. Mr. Giuliani’s connection to Mr. Trump, his unpredictability and his recent history of outbursts in his frequent television appearances could make him a challenging client.
Lawyers who are solo practitioners were concerned that Mr. Giuliani, who is known to have difficulty delegating, would try to manage his own case, according to a person close to Mr. Giuliani.
Mr. Giuliani’s trouble in hiring a lawyer mirrored Mr. Trump’s own difficulties attracting a top law firm to represent him as the probe by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, dragged into a second year. That difficulty — and Mr. Trump’s desire for a more vocal representative — was how the president ended up hiring Mr. Giuliani.
Mr. Costello and Mr. Giuliani’s relationship dates to their time in the United States attorney’s office in Manhattan, where Mr. Costello was Mr. Giuliani’s intern.
Mr. Costello, who later became the deputy chief of the office’s criminal division, now works for a Manhattan law firm, Davidoff Hutcher & Citron. Mr. Costello declined to comment.
Two other lawyers, Eric M. Creizman and Melissa Madrigal from the law firm Pierce Bainbridge, are joining Mr. Giuliani’s team. Mr. Creizman declined to comment.
Mr. Costello and Mr. Giuliani crossed paths last year at a critical juncture in the investigation of another Trump associate, Michael D. Cohen, who eventually pleaded guilty to helping arrange hush money payments to women who said they had affairs with Mr. Trump. The president has denied the relationships.
Last year, before Mr. Cohen pleaded guilty and decided to turn on Mr. Trump, Mr. Costello offered to contact Mr. Giuliani on Mr. Cohen’s behalf. At the time, Mr. Trump had just hired Mr. Giuliani as a personal lawyer.
Soon after calling Mr. Giuliani to say that he might represent Mr. Cohen, Mr. Costello emailed Mr. Cohen and said, “Rudy was thrilled and said this could not be a better situation for the President or you,” noting that Mr. Giuliani knew and trusted Mr. Costello. Mr. Giuliani, he added, “said thank you for opening this back channel of communication.”
Mr. Costello ultimately had a falling out with Mr. Cohen and never formally represented him.
Few details of the current criminal inquiry focused on Mr. Giuliani have been revealed publicly, and he has not been accused of wrongdoing. But the investigation could cover a broad range of his conduct, including his work with two associates and former Ukrainian prosecutors.
Together, the men tried to dig up dirt about former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., a candidate in the 2020 presidential election, and his son Hunter, and increase pressure on other targets of Mr. Trump and his allies, including the American ambassador to Ukraine.
The investigation into Mr. Giuliani appears to have grown out of a 14-month inquiry that has already resulted in charges against the associates and two other men. The associates, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, were indicted last month on campaign finance violations, some of which were linked to work the two men did for Mr. Giuliani in Ukraine. They have pleaded not guilty.
One of the federal prosecutors handling that case said in court two weeks ago that the investigation was ongoing, though “no decision about any type of additional charges” had yet been made.
Mr. Giuliani was briefly represented by Jon A. Sale, a former Watergate prosecutor who also worked as a federal prosecutor in the Manhattan office, in connection with a subpoena he received last month from House impeachment investigators.
On Mr. Giuliani’s behalf, Mr. Sale declined to cooperate with the impeachment inquiry, writing on Oct. 15 that the material sought was “beyond the scope of legitimate inquiry” and a violation of attorney-client and executive privilege. On the same day, Mr. Giuliani said on Twitter that Mr. Sale would no longer be representing him because the matter related to the subpoena was over and, “at this time, I do not need a lawyer.”
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