Rudy Giuliani Facing Inquiry Into Whether He Lobbied Trump for Turkey

Rudy Giuliani is the subject of a Justice Department inquiry into possible foreign lobbying for Turkish interests separate from a criminal probe of his activities in Ukraine, according to people familiar with the matter.

For almost a year, the former New York mayor and personal lawyer to Donald Trump has been fielding questions about whether he was acting for Turkey when he pushed the Trump administration in 2017 to drop money-laundering charges against gold trader Reza Zarrab and also reportedly sought the deportation of exiled Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen. Zarrab later pleaded guilty and implicated Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in a sanctions-evasion scheme, while Erdogan claims Gulen was behind a failed 2016 coup against his government.

The Turkey inquiry, which has not been previously reported, is not criminal, in contrast to the Ukraine investigation, which resulted in the Federal Bureau of Investigation seizing Giuliani’s electronic devices in April 28 raids on his Manhattan home and office. Though both matters focus on whether Giuliani lobbied the Trump administration on behalf of foreign interests, the Justice Department usually takes a softer approach when it thinks failure to register wasn’t intentional.

Robert Costello, a lawyer for Giuliani, said the Justice Department’s Turkey inquiry was driven by an October 2019 Washington Post story that, citing unnamed officials, said that Giuliani had insistently sought Gulen’s deportation in several White House meetings with Trump.

“Giuliani never sought the cleric’s deportation, and he never represented Turkey,” Costello said, adding that his client’s only interactions with Turkey involved an attempt to get Zarrab released to Turkey in exchange for Andrew Brunson, an evangelical pastor who was being held at the time by the Turkish government.

The Justice Department declined to comment on the matter.

Giuliani has denied lobbying for either Turkish or Ukrainian interests, and the government has not accused him of wrongdoing in either matter. In the Turkey inquiry, if the government decides that Giuliani acted for a foreign interest, it could issue a determination letter requiring him to register as a lobbyist and also disclose all details of contacts he had with U.S. and Turkish officials concerning Zarrab and Gulen.

The inquiry adds to the host of legal trouble Giuliani is facing. On top of the Ukraine probe, he had his New York law license suspended last week for spreading Trump’s false voter-fraud claims. Giuliani is also being sued over his election claims by voting machine makers and by members of Congress who accuse him of helping to incite the Jan. 6 Capitol riots. He is seeking to dismiss those suits.

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