Trump Pressed Tillerson to Help Giuliani Client Evade Iran Sanctions

Elias Hubbard
October 10, 2019

During a 2017 meeting in the Oval Office, President Trump urged then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to help coax the Department of Justice into dropping a criminal case against one of Rudy Giuliani's clients, three people familiar with the matter told Bloomberg News.

Tillerson refused, saying the action would be illegal and constitute interference in an ongoing investigation. He repeated his objections to then-chief of staff John Kelly in a hallway conversation in the White House.

Trump allegedly requested Tillerson's help in convincing the DOJ to cease prosecuting Reza Zarrab, 34, an Iranian-Turkish gold trader. And news of it comes as his relationships to both Giuliani and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan come under scrutiny.

He eventually pleaded guilty and reportedly testified against Mehmet Hakan Atilla, who headed global banking at Halbank, a state-owned Turkish bank. Erdogan has denied this.

Giuliani, who was then a private attorney but went on to become President Donald Trump's personal attorney in April 2018, willingly spoke out, on the other hand.

Mukasey, who was working alongside Giuliani to represent Zarrab, told the President it was an arrangement he could order as president, since it was within his power.

'Suppose I did talk to Trump about it - so what?

The details about the Giuliani's client are a little complex, and I'd encourage you to read the full Bloomberg report and watch last night's segment for the relevant details.

'Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe at some point I dropped his name in a conversation. Before Zarrab began cooperating with authorities in his case, Erdogan tried to have him released to Turkey.

Meanwhile, Trump's relationship to Erodgan has gained renewed attention after he spoke with the authoritarian leader over the weekend and abruptly announced that United States troops would withdraw from northern Syria, clearing the way for a Turkish incursion.

It also comes as the president faces sharp bipartisan criticism over his abrupt decision on Sunday to withdraw US troops from northern Syria. Trump's own phone call with Ukraine's President asking him to investigate Biden is central to ongoing impeachment efforts. The White House did not respond to a request for comment. Erdoğan said Wednesday that Turkey had already launched its military offensive in northern Syria against USA -backed Syrian Kurdish fighters, which have been a crucial US ally in the fight against ISIS.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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