Trump Wanted DOJ To Drop Case Against Iranian-Turkish Client Of Giuliani
In 2017, attorney Rudy Giuliani represented an Iranian-Turkish gold trader who ran into trouble with the U.S. government, and President Donald Trump reportedly tried to help shut down the Justice Department’s investigation of the matter.
Bloomberg News reported this week that Trump pressed former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to intervene in an attempt to convince the DOJ to back off.
“Tillerson refused Trump's 2017 request, saying it would be illegal to interfere with an ongoing investigation,” The Hill reported, also informing then-White House Chief of Staff John Kelly of his position on the issue.
The trader was Reza Zarrab, who faced prosecution in New York federal court for evading U.S. sanctions on Iran. Zarrab had hired Giuliani to represent him the matter, well before the attorney would go on to also represent the president.
Zarrab’s release reportedly was a top priority of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, prior to the trader’s decision to cooperate with American prosecutors, The Hill said.
“Zarrab pleaded guilty and reportedly testified against Mehmet Hakan Atilla, who was in charge of international banking at Halkbank, a state-owned Turkish bank,” the news outlet reported. Zarrab also pointed a finger at Erdogan, saying the president “knew and supported the laundering effort on behalf of Iran.”
Trump is now caught up in another debacle surrounding Turkey and Erdogan, after deciding to pull U.S. troops out of northern Syria in advance of a long-planned Turkish incursion into the region that until now had been held off by American forces.
The president appears to have caved during a recent conversation with Erdogan and agreed to stand down, greenlighting the Turkish attack on Kurdish-led forces over the weekend.
This appears to be twice that Trump, who acknowledged in 2015 that he had conflicts of interest in Turkey due to his Trump Towers in Istanbul, used his public office in an attempt to further the interests of Erdogan.