U.S. Distances Itself From Giuliani's Surprise Letter to Romania

(Bloomberg) -- The U.S. distanced itself from an unexpected intervention in Romanian politics by President Donald Trump’s lawyer, who backed controversial government actions that have prompted mass protests in the eastern European country.

Rudy Giuliani, who has no official role in shaping American foreign policy, wrote to President Klaus Iohannis last week saying his nation’s anti-corruption efforts have overreached and recommending an amnesty of those convicted under the crackdown. July’s removal of Romania’s chief anti-graft prosecutor, forced through by the government, sparked criticism from the U.S. and the European Union, and helped bring more than 100,000 demonstrators onto the streets this month.

The American embassy in Bucharest on Tuesday declined to comment on what it called “the views or conclusions of private U.S. citizens.” It referred to a statement from June made alongside countries including France and Germany urging Romania “to avoid changes that would weaken the rule of law or Romania’s ability to fight crime or corruption.”

The Trump administration has recently moved to improve ties with parts of eastern Europe that have fallen into disputes with the EU and sought to implement an illiberal model of governance. In a nod to Trump, Romania recently proposed following the U.S. move to switch its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, though the idea was shot down by Iohannis. He opposes government-backed legislative changes that would weaken punishment for crooked officials.

Some of the policies outlined by Giuliani would directly benefit Romania’s de facto leader, ruling-party boss Liviu Dragnea, who has two criminal convictions that prevent him from taking the position of prime minister. Dragnea backed Giuliani’s remarks Monday on Facebook, also renewing what have become regular attacks on Iohannis.

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