Rudy Giuliani, former New York mayor and personal lawyer to Donald Trump, is under investigation for possible foreign lobbying once again, this time for Turkish interests, according to multiple reports.
The Department of Justice inquiry is looking into whether Giuliani lobbied the Trump administration to drop money laundering charges against gold trader Reza Zarrab in 2017. Zarrab later pleaded guilty and implicated Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in a sanctions evasion scheme.
He’s also accused of pushing for the deportation of exiled Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen. Erdogan claims Gulen was behind a failed 2016 coup against his government.
Robert Costello, a lawyer for Giuliani, said the inquiry, which is not criminal, was kick started by a Washington Post story in October 2019. In that story, unnamed officials said Giuliani constantly sought Gulen’s deportation several times in meetings with former President Donald Trump.
“Giuliani never sought the cleric’s deportation, and he never represented Turkey,” Costello said. He went onto say Giuliani’s only interaction with Turkey was when he tried 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.
This investigation is different than the criminal probe into Giuliani’s alleged activities in Ukraine, which became a part of former President Trump’s first impeachment back in 2019. It also led to a Federal Bureau of Investigation raid on Giuliani’s home and office in April, where investigators seized his electronic devices.
While both investigations surround alleged lobbying from Giuliani to the Trump administration on behalf of foreign interests, only the Ukraine probe is criminal. The Justice Department usually takes a softer approach when it thinks failure to register as a lobbyist wasn’t intentional.
If the DOJ decides Giuliani acted on behalf of Turkey, it could issue a determination letter requiring him to register as a lobbyist and disclose all details of contacts he had with U.S. and Turkish officials concerning Zarrab and Gulen.