A federal judge demanded more answers on Monday about Rudolph Giuliani’s efforts to get U.S. charges dropped against a wealthy Turkish businessman, zeroing in on the former New York City mayor’s ties to President Donald Trump as a potential conflict that could disqualify him from the case.
U.S. District Judge Richard M. Berman’s order asked Giuliani to disclose any work done for the Trump administration, including anything related to the president’s attempts to impose a travel ban against several predominantly Muslim countries. It was the first time the judge has directly delved into the Giuliani-Trump connection and how it relates to Turkey since Giuliani began working behind the scenes to try to free Reza Zarrab.
The order comes a day before Trump is scheduled to meet with Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has lobbied for Zarrab’s release from jail.
Zarrab, who has pleaded not guilty to violating sanctions against Iran, money laundering and other charges, hired Giuliani and ex-Attorney General Michael Mukasey to see if the case can be resolved through diplomatic channels.
Giuliani and Mukasey met with Erdogan and have said they intend to speak with U.S. officials on his behalf. The judge has been critical of a sworn statement provided to the court by Giuliani and Mukasey, saying they were dismissive of the seriousness of criminal charges against Zarrab.
Asked about the judge’s order, Zarrab attorney Benjamin Brafman said the defense team “will endeavor to provide the information requested as quickly as possible.”
At a bail hearing last year, prosecutors said criminal charges brought against Zarrab in Turkey in 2013 were dropped after Erdogan, then Turkey’s prime minister, reportedly applied political pressure that resulted in the firing of prosecutors in Turkey who brought the charges. Prosecutors said those charges pertained to a massive bribery scheme executed by Zarrab and others involving the payment of tens of millions of dollars to Cabinet-level government officials and high-level bank officers to facilitate Zarrab’s transactions benefiting Iran.
Giuliani’s law firm is registered as a foreign agent for Turkey.