Rudy Giuliani generates a lot of attention for himself with his capacity as a leading member of Donald Trump’s shoddy legal defense team, but Trump is not the ex-mayor’s only client. It has created a very awkward ethics dynamic for several months.
This week, though, the story took a much more serious turn, with Giuliani going all out in his support of Romanian corruption.
Giuliani gets paid for advocacy work in Romania, however, as the New York Times recently reported, there is more to this scandalous story.
Romania, long considered one of the most corrupt states in the European Union, has made energetic efforts to root out graft that has entangled prominent lawmakers. Some have pushed back, angering corruption-weary citizens who have rallied by the tens and sometimes hundreds of thousands.
Now, unexpectedly, Rudolph W. Giuliani, President Trump’s personal lawyer, has waded into the debate on the side of the accused, sending a letter to Romania’s president, Klaus Iohannis, criticizing the country’s anticorruption efforts.
The letter, dated Aug. 22, expressed concern about the “continuing damage to the rule of law being done under the guise of effective law enforcement” in Romania – a position that seemed at odds with official United States policy.
It is the position of Donald Trump’s own State Department that Romania’s massive anti-corruption crackdown is a good development, producing important criminal convictions. But it’s the position of Donald Trump’s corrupt defense lawyer that Romania’s vital anti-corruption crackdown is going too far and could discourage future foreign investment in Romania.
Indeed, Rudy Giuliani isn’t only contradicting the Trump administration. A few weeks before his death, Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.) partnered up with Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) for a letter to Romanian government officials, encouraging them to keep going strong with their heroic anti-corruption campaign. The president’s attorney took the opposite, pro-corruption position, for the sake of his paying client.
Washington Post reported last night that Rudy Giuliani’s letter, after causing “significant ripples in Romania,” resulted in a phone call from some State Department officials, who couldn’t tell if the letter was real. Donald Trump’s lawyer confirmed the shameful letter’s authenticity.
A State Department spokesperson the told the Post that Romania recently “has shown considerable progress in combating corruption” and that they should “continue on this path.” They added, “Rudy Giuliani does not speak for the U.S. government on foreign policy.”
That’s true, but it’s problematic for the international observers when the U.S. president’s diplomats and his lawyer are sending contradictory signals.
Washington Post’s report also said:
Giuliani said he was hired to send the letter by a global consulting firm run by former FBI director Louis Freeh. He declined to say on whose behalf Freeh’s firm was working or how much he was paid.
Freeh did not respond to a request for comment. He has done work in the past for Gabriel Popoviciu, a Romanian investor who last year was sentenced to seven years in prison in a fraud and corruption case.
This summer, Giuliani told The Washington Post that he was working with clients in Brazil and Colombia, among other countries, as well as delivering paid speeches for an Iranian dissident group. He has not registered as a foreign agent with the Justice Department on behalf of his overseas clients, saying it is not necessary because he does not directly lobby the U.S. government.
Rudy Giuliani then added, “Maybe I should have put in the letter that I’m not representing the president.”
All the ethics scandals surrounding this president are overwhelming, but let’s not forget about the related ethics messes involving his crooked friends.