Barr Tried To Block Turkish Bank Prosecution After Erdogan Asked Trump For Help
Attorney General William Barr reportedly attempted to block the Justice Department’s prosecution of a state-owned Turkish bank last year after Turkey’s president appealed to President Donald Trump for help, according to RawStory.
CNN first reported that Barr intervened personally on behalf of Halkbank after the bank was indicted on fraud, money laundering and sanctions offenses charges in October.
The attorney general “tried to direct a settlement that would have allowed the bank to escape indictment, but U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman of the Southern District of New York insisted on criminal prosecution,” RawStory reported.
The request from Erdogan came in April, previous reports indicate, at which time Trump told the Turkish president that Barr and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin would take care of the matter.
In a letter to Barr last week, Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) said Mnuchin’s office confirmed that the Treasury Department became involved in the matter on Trump’s order.
The lawmaker “said officials had told him that Trump, Mnuchin and White House senior adviser Jared Kushner had met with Turkey’s finance minister and Erdoğan’s son-in-law in the Oval Office last April, but they did not reveal what had been discussed.”
Barr has attempted to distance himself from the president after coming under fire last week over allegations that he inappropriately intervened in the case of Trump associate Roger Stone, who was convicted on several felony charges related to lying to investigators and witness tampering.
Trump expressed displeasure with prosecutors’ sentencing recommendation on Twitter, after which Barr stepped in to amend the recommendation; however, afterward, the attorney general insisted that he had not communicated with the president on the matter and had reached the decision without influence from the White House.
Barr went so far as to publicly rebuke the president, saying that Trump’s tweets made it “impossible” for him to do his job.
Still, the situation only fueled accusations that Barr has politicized the Justice Department.