Luke Rosiak on November 6, 2019
President Donald Trump is reportedly set to hire Pam Bondi to advise him on strategies for dealing with Democrats’ impeachment efforts, which relate to allegations that he and his attorney Rudy Giuliani improperly mixed politics and foreign affairs.
Foreign agent disclosures show that Bondi became a registered foreign agent in July for lobbying firm Ballard Strategies, a lobbying firm that also represented Halkbank, a Turkish government-controlled bank that played a role in an earlier effort where Trump allegedly made an improper request to help a Giuliani client.
Federal prosecutors charged Halkbank on Oct. 15 with fraud, money laundering and participation in a multi-billion dollar scheme to evade U.S. sanctions on Iran. Ballard Strategies also represented Halkbank.
“We terminated that relationship the same day or within 24 hours of their indictment,” Justin Sayfie, a Ballard spokesman, told the Daily Caller News Foundation.
An Iranian-Turkish gold trader named Reza Zarrab pleaded guilty to related charges in October 2017 and testified against the CEO of Halbank, also alleging that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan knew of and supported the effort on behalf of Iran, Bloomberg reported.
Giuliani represented Zarrab and was attempting to seek a “diplomatic solution for his client outside the courts,” Bloomberg noted.
Trump pressed former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to get the Department of Justice to drop the case against Zarrab in 2017, Bloomberg reported. Bloomberg said three people with knowledge of the exchange were shocked by the request and that Tillerson rejected it as inappropriate. The Washington Post reported Giuliani was in the room at the time.
“Suppose I did talk to Trump about it — so what?” Giuliani told Bloomberg. “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” with American pastor Andrew Brunson, who was jailed in Turkey.
“We don’t know anything about that,” Sayfie said of Giuliani.
Bloomberg said the 2017 exchange came to light because of allegations that Trump similarly made inappropriate requests related to Ukraine, with Giuliani also playing a role.
The Turkish case was on Trump’s mind to such an extent that when Sen. Lindsey Graham was tricked into talking with a Russian prankster he thought was Turkey’s minister of defense in August. The South Carolina Republican said Trump “was very keen on the bank case. … You know the one involving the Turkish bank?”
“We don’t want the bank case to get out of hand,” Graham said.
Trump is expected to hire Bondi, a former Florida attorney general, this week to advise on impeachment strategy, The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday, citing senior administration officials. WSJ said she and another prospective impeachment aide are “expected to leave their current firms and return after completing their temporary assignments.”
Upon taking office, Trump issued an executive order saying, “Every appointee in every executive agency” must agree that “I will not, at any time after the termination of my employment in the United States Government, engage in any activity on behalf of any foreign government.”
Sayfie said Bondi will “abide by any rules that apply” if she goes to work for the White House.
Bondi became a foreign agent for Qatar in July, working for Ballard Strategies. “Will work to advice, council [sic], and assist in matters related to combating [sic] human trafficking,” her Foreign Agents Registration Act disclosure says.
A serf class of 2 million Indian and Nepalese, or seven for every Qatari, serve Qatar’s elites, and until recently they were barred from leaving without their employers’ permission. Nepalese laborers died at a rate of almost one a day in Qatar while building the World Cup stadium and working on other projects, according to The Guardian.
Numerous westerners have been trapped in the country against their will for years, the DCNF previously reported.
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