Lawyer and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani comments on a lawsuit filed against video game giant Activision outside Los Angeles Superior court in Los Angeles, Calif., on Oct. 16, 2014.
Photo by Damian Dovarganes/AP

Giuliani’s apparent ‘shadow foreign policy’ gets him into more trouble

Updated

The Rachel Maddow Show, 10/15/19, 9:34 PM ET

Giuliani pressed Trump to eject cleric sought by Turkey: WaPo

Ari Melber relays breaking news from the Washington Post that Rudy Giuliani repeatedly pressed Donald Trump to extradite exiled Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen from the U.S., a top priority of Turkish President Erdogan.
Rudy Giuliani’s work in Ukraine already appears to be the basis for an ongoing criminal investigation, but the Washington Post had a stunning report overnight alleging that the former mayor also urged Donald Trump to extradite a Turkish cleric living in Pennsylvania, which happens to be a top priority of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Giuliani, a Trump ally who later became the president’s personal attorney, repeatedly argued to Trump that the U.S. government should eject Fethullah Gulen from the country, according to the former officials, who spoke on the condition on anonymity to describe private conversations. […]

The former New York mayor brought up Gulen so frequently with Trump during visits to the White House [in 2017] that one former official described the subject as Giuliani’s “hobby horse.” He was so focused on the issue – “it was all Gulen,” recalled a second former official – that White House aides worried that Giuliani was making the case on behalf of the Turkish government, former officials said.

Some of this may sound familiar, largely because Fethullah Gulen and Team Trump have intersected before. During the 2016 campaign, for example, Michael Flynn wore two hats: he was advising Donald Trump on matters of national security, while at the same time he was on Turkey’s payroll.

As part of his job as an agent of a foreign government, Flynn took a keen interest in Gulen – there were reports of a possible kidnaping scheme – and Flynn lied to the FBI about the whole affair. The former White House national security adviser is currently awaiting sentencing.

What we didn’t know is that Giuliani also took a keen interest in Gulen, raising all kinds of questions about why, exactly, the Republican lawyer made this such a priority.

There are a series of related questions, of course, about Giuliani running what the Washington Post described as “a shadow foreign policy,” even before joining the president’s legal defense team.

Remember, it’s not just his legally dubious work in Ukraine that’s of interest: there were related reports last week about Giuliani engaging in sketchy behind-the-scenes work on behalf of Reza Zarrab, an Iranian-Turkish gold trader whom American prosecutors believe played a key role in a scheme to funnel billions of dollars to Iran, in defiance of U.S. sanctions.

Under the circumstances, common sense suggests Giuliani will need a capable legal defense team of his own, but even that’s more complex than it probably should be.

It was just two weeks ago when Giuliani announced that he’d be represented by attorney Jon Sale, though yesterday, the former mayor said that he’s no longer Sale’s client. “At this time,” Giuliani wrote on Twitter, “I do not need a lawyer.”

There appears to be some rather compelling evidence to the contrary. Indeed, while multiple news outlets have noted the criminal investigation into the New York Republican, USA Today reported overnight, “U.S. counterintelligence agents have been examining Rudy Giuliani’s business dealings with two men indicted last week on campaign finance charges since at least early 2019, according to a Manhattan lawyer.”

Those two men, of course, are Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, who were taken into federal custody last week, following their alleged effort to funnel illegal Russian campaign contributions to Republicans.