Oh Nothing, Just Trump Asking Rex Tillerson To Commit Crimes In The Oval Office For Rudy Giuliani
News continues to flow out about all the times Donald Trump has committed crimes in the Oval Office, not that we weren't hearing about it before, it's just DIFFERENT now, because shut up, it's different. For instance, we are in the process of impeaching the motherfucker, which makes it ipso facto "different."
Today's scoop comes from Bloomberg News, and it is about a meeting in 2017 when Trump looked at then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and said "CRIME TIME!" Specifically he wanted Tillerson to lean on the Justice Department to drop an investigation into Reza Zarrab, an Iranian-Turkish gold trader Rudy Giuliani just so happened to be representing, what a coincidence, cannot believe our eyes:
President Donald Trump pressed then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to help persuade the Justice Department to drop a criminal case against an Iranian-Turkish gold trader who was a client of Rudy Giuliani, according to three people familiar with the 2017 meeting in the Oval Office.
Tillerson refused, arguing it would constitute interference in an ongoing investigation of the trader, Reza Zarrab, according to the people. They said other participants in the Oval Office were shocked by the request.
Tillerson immediately repeated his objections to then-Chief of Staff John Kelly in a hallway conversation just outside the Oval Office, emphasizing that the request would be illegal. Neither episode has been previously reported, and all of the people spoke on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the conversations.
So Trump makes the ask to Tillerson, and reportedly says, like he apparently says so often to the Ukrainians, that Tillerson should really get with Rudy Giuliani on this. Everybody in the Oval Office is like "WHOA THERE, CRIMER!" Tillerson says no, Mister President, I cannot be doing that crime today. Tillerson goes out to John Kelly and says "Big Treason just asked me to do a crime!"
You know, because in Trump's world, the Justice Department is just Trump's plaything, and it's totally cool to push it to drop investigations into friends and family and people Rudy Giuliani happens to be representing.
Very legal and very cool!
Tillerson has told us before that Trump asked him to do illegal things. He told us. During a forum about a year ago, Tillerson was regaling the audience with tales of the president he reportedly called a "fucking moron," and explained how he'd have to tell Donald Trump all the time that he couldn't do things, because of how they were illegal. This video of Tillerson telling Bob Schieffer about that has been going around:
Rex Tillerson, please show up at Congress at your earliest convenience. Adam Schiff has some questions for you.
But wait, before you go, there's so much more here, so please stay in this post for one million years.
Do you remember who Giuliani's client Reza Zarrab is? Wonkette has talked about him many times, and Rachel Maddow gave some good background last night as well. The newspapers are describing him as a "gold trader" who was being prosecuted for "evading US sanctions against Iran's nuclear program," but it's bigger than those words really describe. Zarrab was running a gigantic money laundering operation to evade nuclear sanctions, and he was being prosecuted for it in the Southern District of New York. Zarrab's crimes also specifically implicated the Turkish government, as Five Dollar Feminist explained a while back in this bullet point version of Reza Zarrab, Who The Fuck Is That?
Borrowing her bullet points word for word:
- The Turkish government bank, Halkbank, had a complicated scheme to help Iran avoid oil sanctions by trading gold bars through a bunch of shell companies;
- Rudy Giuliani lobbied on behalf of the Turkish government to get the US to trade one of the defendants, Reza Zarrab, for American pastor Andrew Brunson, who was imprisoned in Turkey;
- Michael Flynn also tried to get the Trump government to cut Zarrab loose to Turkey, instead of having Zarrab testify in federal court about the Turkish government's illegal sanctions-busting scheme;
- Zarrab did testify, after sitting down with Robert Mueller and PROBABLY telling him all about Michael Flynn's dirrrrty dirt with the Turkish government; and
- Zarrab's testimony resulted in the conviction of ... Mehmet Hakan Atilla! [Zarrab's co-defendant, who was in charge of international banking at the aforementioned Turkish state-owned bank]
So not only was Trump asking Rex Tillerson to crime in the general direction of the Justice Department, getting it to stop prosecuting Rudy Giuliani's client. He was also trying to do Turkey a favor and let it off the hook for this scheme to circumvent American sanctions on Iran, which he theoretically supports.
And it just so happened that Zarrab was also Flynn's guy, at least at one point! This Trump conversation happened in the Oval sometime in mid-2017, after which a lot of stories started coming out about how the former national security advisor was a literal actual agent for the government of Turkey. You see, there were a couple of specific things Turkey wanted from Flynn. They wanted the exiled cleric Fetullah Gülen, who's been happily living in America for years, because Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan says Gülen is a terrorist. Flynn was actually working on a scheme to subvert American law to KIDNAP THAT GUY and send him back to Turkey, so Erdoğan could have him murdered. (Remember Flynn's weird op-ed in The Hill on election day about how we must help our friend and lover Turkey, which is having a crisis right now?)
Turkey also wanted the SDNY to quit prosecuting Zarrab, who was being prosecuted by then-US Attorney Preet Bharara. Indeed, Turkey wanted Bharara fired, and led a campaign against him. (And he did get fired, in March of 2017! But the Zarrab case didn't magically go away after that.)
Oh yeah, and Flynn was supposed to get $15 million for all these little Turkey Tasks!
Anyway, we don't have the exact timeline locked down yet, but it looks like sometime after Bharara was gone, but before Zarrab became a cooperating witness for the SDNY in October of 2017, which Turkey DID NOT WANT to happen, Donald Trump, Turkish Agent, was just rootin'-tootin' around the Oval Office asking his secretary of State to get Justice to put the kibosh on an investigation into a guy who was in trouble for a wee bit of international money laundering trading gold bars for Iranian gas in order to evade American sanctions on Iran.
Also throughout 2017, Giuliani was pootin' around Turkey trying to make some sort of prisoner swap deal happen to get his guy Zarrab back in the safe and loving arms of the Turkish government, which reportedly concerned the State Department, just like they also got worried this year when Giuliani started pootin' around Ukraine doing international crime diplomacy for Donald Trump.
Hey, at least Giuliani wasn't trying to sell a cleric to Turkey for $15 million so Turkey could MURDER THAT GUY. Bloomberg notes that at this time, Rudy Giuliani wasn't even serving as Trump's TV lawyer. He was just ... whatever Rudy Giuliani is.
Bloomberg spoke to Giuliani for this story, and you will be unsurprised to learn that he is BIG MAD and that he can't keep his fuckin' story straight.
In a phone interview this month, Giuliani initially denied that he ever raised Zarrab's case with Trump ...
Here's also Giuliani:
... but later said he might have done so.
"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."
Maybe he did, maybe he didn't! He was doing prisoner swaps! HE WAS JUST RESCUING A PASTOR!
Here's also Giuliani also too:
Giuliani said he discussed the Zarrab case with State Department officials and disclosed that two years ago, although he declined to say if he ever spoke directly to Tillerson about the case, saying "you have no right to know that."
Like we said, BIG MAD.
Anyway, does finding out that Donald Trump tried to make Rex Tillerson do crimes in order to protect the Turkish government in 2017 make you feel kinda weird about how Trump just decided to abandon the Kurds this week, so Turkey could start genociding them? Kinda brings up some questions, maybe? Like, for instance, what kind of criminal operation is Trump engaged in that made him decide to sell out the Kurds to Turkey for some murderin'?
It probably doesn't have anything to do with how Trump's BFFs the Saudis murdered a US resident and Washington Post journalist on Turkish soil and Trump was fine with it, but Turkey's threatening to spill all the evidence it has if Trump doesn't do exactly what Turkey tells him, right?
Nah, that can't be it, Jamal Khashoggi wasn't murdered until 2018, so while that could be part of what's making Trump lie prostrate before Turkey this week, it wouldn't be part of the Reza Zarrab thing.
What the fuck ELSE does Turkey have on Trump? You know, besides his hotels.
"I have a little conflict of interest 'cause I have a major, major building in Istanbul," Trump boasted [in 2015]. "It's a tremendously successful job. It's called Trump Towers — two towers, instead of one, not the usual one; it's two. And I've gotten to know Turkey very well. They're amazing people, they're incredible people. They have a strong leader."
There's still more to this story to come out. Stay tuned!
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