‘That’s Illegal Mr. President’: Top Aide Refused Trump’s Request To Break The Law To Help Giuliani’s Client
According to a new report by Bloomberg, President Donald Trump pressured then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to help convince the Department of Justice (DOJ) to drop a criminal investigation against an Iranian-Turkish gold trader who was also a client of Trump’s current personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani.
Tillerson refused Trump’s request, according to the report, saying “it would be illegal” to interfere with an ongoing investigation. He repeated his stance to then-chief of staff John Kelly in a hallway conversation in the White House.
At the time, Reza Zarrab, the trader in question, was being prosecuted by a New York federal court on charges of evading U.S. sanctions against Iran’s nuclear program, according to Bloomberg. As a result, Zarrab hired Giuliani and former Attorney General Michael Mukasey.
Giuliani reportedly reached out to U.S. officials numerous in attempts to solve his client’s situation outside of the court system.
Tillerson said that President Donald Trump asked him multiple times to do things that would break the law, Bloomberg reports.
The report comes amid growing scrutiny over the president’s dealings with foreign leaders, especially in light of a recent whistleblower report that raised concerns over a phone call Trump held in which he pressed Ukraine’s president to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son.
The scandal has also implicated Giuliani, whose own dealings in Ukraine have drawn the attention of lawmakers in recent weeks.
The report also comes shortly after Trump announced he was pulling U.S. troops out of northeastern Syria ahead of an expected Turkish offensive against Kurdish forces there. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced on Wednesday that he had formally launched the invasion.
The White House declined to comment on the report.