President Donald Trump's recent decision to allow a Turkish invasion of Syria that threatens US allies has put the president's relations with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan under new scrutiny – and a new report is likely to heighten the controversy. Bloomberg reported Wednesday in a conversation that Trump had in the second half of 2017 with then Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, in which Trump allegedly asked Tillerson to help persuade the Justice Department to give up his criminal case against Reza Zarrab, a Turkish-Iranian gold merchant — and client of Rudy Giuliani. Tillerson declined the request and immediately retold it to then-chief of staff John Kelly, "emphasizing that the request would be illegal."
Giuliani was not the president's lawyer at the time, and Bloomberg notes that it is unclear whether Trump really realized that the request was as "improper" as it really was. After all, the president was eager to publicly declare his desire to see foreign leaders investigate his political rivals, and while Tillerson did not respond to Bloomberg about the reported conversation, he has in the past suggested that the president's request was hardly an isolated incident. "Often the president would say," Here's what I want to do, and here's how I want to do it, "and I would have to say to him," Mr. President, I understand what you want to do, but you can't do it that way, ”Tillerson said in a Texas stage interview last year. "It violates the law, violates the treaty, and it just got very frustrated when we had these conversations." The White House and
Kelly declined to comment to Bloomberg about Trump's request, while Giuliani, when asked if he had talked to Trump about his client, told Bloomberg: “Suppose I talked to Trump about it – so what? I was a private lawyer at the time. .
. . Maybe at some point I left his name in a conversation. (When asked if he had talked to Tillerson, Giuliani replied, "You have no right to know that.")
But Trump's involvement with Zarrab's case also raises new questions. Zarrab was arrested in 2016 on a family trip to Walt Disney World for evading US sanctions against Iran with former US attorney Preet Bharara. writing Zarrab “facilitated millions of dollars in transactions on behalf of Iran. . through a global network of companies located in Turkey and the United Arab Emirates. In addition, Zarrab also had ties to the Turkish government and, Bharara noted, was “involved in a massive bribery scheme. . . paying cabinet-level (Turkish) government officials and senior bank officials tens of millions of euros and US dollars ”to ease their transactions. Zarrab's case was a priority for Erdogan, who, while not directly involved in evading sanctions, was tangentially linked to corruption. The Turkish President has lobbied Obama administration officials, including President Barack Obama and former Vice President Joe Biden, for the merchant's release and the New York Times. noticed In 2017, its officials mounted a campaign calling the case "a conspiracy against Turkey" when it finally went to trial. Although efforts to secure Zarrab's release were unsuccessful, Zarrab ended up having a judicial agreement in November 2017 – and it was speculated that he would be cooperating with Robert Mueller's team in the investigation of Michael Flynn and his relationship with Erdogan.
Given Erdogan's involvement, the revelation that Trump was personally pushing for Zarrab's case to be dropped will likely fuel new concerns about Trump's alleged speech. "Flatterer" relationship with the authoritarian Turkish president, as Trump apparently prioritizes Turkey over his own party's views, pulling troops out of Syria and endangering US Kurdish allies. (Trump's relationship with Erdogan has also been examined due to Trump's real estate business in Istanbul and a NBC News The analysis found that the Turkish authorities made more visits to Trump's properties than any other government.) defended his unpopular military decision on Wednesday, Trumpian fashion, saying that Kurdish troops "did not help us in World War II. They did not help us in Normandy." fired Meanwhile, lawmakers are scaling up their rare two-party condemnation of Trump's decision when Senators Lindsey Graham and Chris Van Hollen issued a bill on Wednesday that would enact sanctions against Peru. “The Kurds have been a great partner. . . Turkey under Erdogan did not go. I'm worried about what might happen next, "Republican Senator Roy Blunt said Political Wednesday. "I would like the president to reconsider."
. (tagsToTranslate) Donald Trump (t) Rudy Giuliani (t) President Erdogan (t) Turkey (t) Iran