Over the years, I have been highly critical of the performance of Rudolph W. Giuliani as counsel for President Donald Trump. Nevertheless, I was floored by a story in the Washington Post this morning that Giuliani pressed Trump to transfer an elderly Turkish cleric, Fethullah Gulen, to Turkey where he is widely expected to be tortured and killed by the authoritarian Turkish President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan. If true, the effort by Giuliani would succeed in reaching a new low in the various scandals swirling around the White House. Notably, former national security adviser Michael Flynn was reportedly working on the same effort, which I previously criticized as one of lowest tasks ever undertaken for profit. The story reminds me of the old joke about why scientists have started to use lawyers rather than rats in experiments because there are certain things that even rats won’t do.
Turkish strongman Recep Tayyip Erdogan is obsessed with a Turkish cleric living in the United States and wants him handed over for likely torture and execution. Flynn was reportedly one of the people willing to discuss the effort, which hardly speaks well of him or his values. Flynn’s firm — Flynn Intel Group — allegedly received a total of $530,000 for its work.
Given near certainty of torture at the hands of Erdogan’s infamous security forces, the effort by Flynn and Giuliani is breathtaking in its collaboration. Gulen is a permanent U.S. resident who lives in Pennsylvania. Giuliani was reportedly working hard to send him to a horrible death.
The Post reports that Giuliani raised Gulen so many times with Trump and White House officials intervened and told him to stop. They were also concerned that Giuliani violated lobbying rules in the effort.
Even more chilling is the report that Trump appeared inclined to relent to the demand of Erdogan and repeatedly asked why not do the favor for Erdogan, who Trump reportedly described as “his friend.”
Given the unfolding disaster in Syria after Trump relented to a demand of Erdogan to pull back troops before the Turkish invasion, that friendship has already come at a considerable cost.