Donald Trump ‘pressed then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to interfere in DOJ case against Turkish gold trader who was a client of Rudy Giuliani’ in 2017
- New report cites three sources familiar with the 2017 Oval Office meeting
- Claims that Trump pressured Tillerson to interfere in Justice Department probe
- Gold trader Reza Zarrab was charged with evading sanctions against Iran
- Zarrab was a client of Trump’s ally and campaign surrogate Rudolph Giuliani
- Tillerson refused the request and Zarrab later pleaded guilty
President Donald Trump pressured then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in 2017 to interfere in a Justice Department prosecution of an international gold trader who was a client of Rudolph Giuliani, according to a new report.
Tillerson flatly refused Trump’s request to persuade the DOJ to drop a criminal case against Reza Zarrab, who was charged with violating sanctions against Iran, three people present at the Oval Office meeting told Bloomberg.
Zarrab later pleaded guilty in what prosecutors called a ‘massive and brazen scheme that blew a billion-dollar hole in the Iran sanctions regime.’
Sources said that after the Oval Office meeting, Tillerson immediately repeated his objection to Trump’s request to then-Chief of Staff John Kelly in a hallway conversation. saying the request would be illegal.
Trump reportedly pressured then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson (left) in 2017 to interfere in a Justice Department prosecution of an international gold trader
Tillerson flatly refused Trump’s request to persuade the DOJ to drop a criminal case against Reza Zarrab (above), who was charged with violating sanctions against Iran
The White House, Kelly and Tillerson all declined to comment on the record to Bloomberg.
Zarrab’s release was reportedly a high priority for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, until the gold trader agreed to cooperate with prosecutors in New York.
Zarrab, 35, a dual national of Iran and Turkey, was a government witness in the trial of Mehmet Hakan Atilla, a former deputy general manager at Turkey’s state-owned Halkbank who was convicted of helping Iran evade U.S. sanctions.
Giuliani, who was then a private attorney but went on to become President Donald Trump’s personal attorney in April 2018, willingly spoke out, on the other hand.
Giuliani told Bloomberg that he never raised Zarrab’s case with Trump, but later said he might have done so.
Giuliani first said that he never raised Zarrab’s case with Trump, but later said he might have
Giuliani said he’d been speaking with U.S. officials as part of his effort to arrange a swap of Zarrab for Andrew Brunson, an American pastor jailed in Turkey who was later released (above)
He said he’d been speaking with U.S. officials as part of his effort to arrange a swap of Zarrab for Andrew Brunson, an American pastor jailed in Turkey who was later released in 2018.
‘Suppose I did talk to Trump about it — so what? I was a private lawyer at the time,’ Giuliani said.
‘Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe at some point I dropped his name in a conversation. Or maybe one of his people talked to him about it because I was trying to do a prisoner swap.’
One source confirms that the State Department under Tillerson got involved in discussions over possibly swapping Zarrab for Brunson but the matter was eventually dropped because Turkey kept escalating its demands