Giuliani Joined Trump Admin Discussions About Erdogan Foe Before Repping Trump

BEDMINSTER TOWNSHIP, NJ - NOVEMBER 20: President-elect Donald Trump greets Rudy Giuliani at the clubhouse at Trump National Golf Club Bedminster in Bedminster Township, N.J. on Sunday, Nov. 20, 2016. (Photo by Jabin ... BEDMINSTER TOWNSHIP, NJ - NOVEMBER 20: President-elect Donald Trump greets Rudy Giuliani at the clubhouse at Trump National Golf Club Bedminster in Bedminster Township, N.J. on Sunday, Nov. 20, 2016. (Photo by Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images) MORE LESS

Before he was President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani was involved in a debate within the Trump administration over an adversary of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Bloomberg reported Monday.

At one point, Giuliani reportedly participated in a phone call about Department of Education grants to a network of charter schools affiliated with the Erdogan adversary, the Pennsylvania-based cleric Fethullah Gulen. Bloomberg cited an unnamed person who was also on the call.

It’s the latest in a string of reports on Giuliani’s advocacy for priorities of the Turkish leader. Also in early 2017, Giuliani was pushing the White House to kick Gulen out of the United States. Erdogan blames Gulen for a failed 2016 coup attempt in Turkey.

It isn’t clear how the issue of school funds became a White House focus; the money is distributed by the federal government to the states, which parcel it out to schools.

But in the run-up to Trump’s first meeting with Erdogan in 2017, the White House zeroed in on federal funds benefitting the Gulen-linked schools.

Per Bloomberg, the National Security Council and Domestic Policy Council at the White House asked the Department of Education if it would be possible to block the funds.

The White House reportedly even suggested specific lines of inquiry, such as whether the schools were being used to launder money, or whether Gulen’s status as a religious leader could mean that the schools were religious institutions ineligible for federal funds.

The Education Department pushed back against the request, Bloomberg reported.

Separately, the White House gave then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson a pamphlet about the Gulen-affiliated schools at Giuliani’s request, according to an unnamed person familiar with the matter. Tillerson threw the document out, concluding it was just an advertisement for the schools, Bloomberg reported.

In early 2017, Giuliani joined the legal team of a Turkish gold trader, Reza Zarrab, charged with an Iranian sanctions evasion scheme. As part of that work, Giuliani said in an affidavit that he was focused primarily on “whether this case can be resolved as part of some agreement between the United States and Turkey.”

That fall, Trump reportedly told Giuliani and his Zarrab co-counsel Michael Mukasey to make their case to Tillerson for a prisoner swap that would release the Turkish trader.

“Guys, give Rex your pitch,” Trump reportedly said, according to a source who spoke to the Washington Post. A few months later, Giuliani joined Trump’s legal team.

Dear Reader,

When we asked recently what makes TPM different from other outlets, readers cited factors like honesty, curiosity, transparency, and our vibrant community. They also pointed to our ability to report on important stories and trends long before they are picked up by mainstream outlets; our ability to contextualize information within the arc of history; and our focus on the real-world consequences of the news.

Our unique approach to reporting and presenting the news, however, wouldn’t be possible without our readers’ support. That’s not just marketing speak, it’s true: our work would literally not be possible without readers deciding to become members. Not only does member support account for more than 80% of TPM’s revenue, our members have helped us build an engaged and informed community. Many of our best stories were born from reader tips and valuable member feedback.

We do what other news outlets can’t or won’t do because our members’ support gives us real independence.

If you enjoy reading TPM and value what we do, become a member today.

Latest News
Comments
Masthead Masthead
Founder & Editor-in-Chief:
Executive Editor:
Managing Editor:
Associate Editor:
Investigations Desk:
Reporters:
Newswriters:
Director of Audience:
Editor at Large:
General Counsel:
Publisher:
Head of Product:
Director of Technology:
Associate Publisher:
Front End Developer:
Senior Designer: