Rudy Giuliani one of Trump’s chief surrogates during the 2016 election, has been accused by federal prosecutors of trying to short circuit the prosecution of a notorious Turkish money launderer by using back channels to Trump administration. The presiding judge called other actions “surprisingly disingenuous.”
The case involves Turkish businessman Reza Zarrab, who has close ties to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Zarrab has been charged for violating U.S. sanctions against Iran. He allegedly laundered hundreds of millions of dollars through the U.S. banks on behalf of Iran to help the rogue nation avoid financial sanctions, according to court papers on file in U.S.District Court in Manhattan.
Federal prosecutors have tied transactions funneled through a network of Zarrab-owned companies to Iran’s elite Quds special forces and Hezbollah, the radical Arab terrorist group fighting to undermine Israel.
Zarrab’s team of lawyers hired Giuliani and Michael Mukasey, who served as attorney general under President George W. Bush, according to Bloomberg.
Giuliani and Mukasey were reportedly hired to be part of the defense team, but they drew the scrutiny of federal prosecutors for attempting to meet with high-level U.S. officials to derail the court case, according to court papers.
Giuliani and Mukasey also went to Turkey in February and met President Erdogan to discuss the case, according to Bloomberg.
During a hearing in the case yesterday, (May 2), U.S. District Judge Richard Berman called Giuliani and Mukasey “surprisingly disingenuous” for making allegedly misleading statements about Zarrab’s activities.
The judge noted that they filed statements with the court that failed to mention Iran’s central role in the indictment. They also claimed Zarrab’s activities involved “consumer goods,” not weapons or nuclear technology.
The hearing was held to determine whether Giuliani’s and Mukasey’s activities posed a conflict of interest. At issue is the defendant’s right to a fair trial, according to court papers. Another hearing is scheduled for May 11.
While the extent of federal scrutiny is unknown, both Giuliani and Mukasey have lawyered up, according to court papers.
The lawyers claim in court filings their efforts have been “entirely lawful and not at all unprecedented.”
Former Trump National Security Adviser Michael Flynn also worked for a company with close ties to Erdogan’s government while serving as a key adviser to Trump’s campaign, The Wall Street Journal reported in March.
In Sept 2016, Flynn met with senior Turkish government officials to discuss how to remove a Turkish dissident from the United States without going through judicial or other legal proceedings–a move that may have violated U.S. criminal laws, according to the newspaper.
Flynn only formally disclosed his work for the Turkish company in government filings after he was fired for lying about meeting with Russian officials during the campaign. He was paid $530,000 by the company.
Flynn, a retired U.S. Army Lt General, has agreed to disclose all he knows about Trump’s Russian connection in exchange for immunity from prosecution. But so far neither the government nor congressional investigators have accepted his offer.
For more on the Giuliani case, U.S. v. Zarrab, 15-cr-867, in the U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, check out Bloomberg.