Trump asked Tillerson to interfere in DOJ case against Giuliani client: report

President TrumpDonald John TrumpZuckerberg launches public defense of Facebook as attacks mount Trump leaning toward keeping a couple hundred troops in eastern Syria: report Warren says making Israel aid conditional on settlement building is 'on the table' MORE pressured then-Secretary of State Rex TillersonRex Wayne TillersonTrump sends nomination for Russia ambassador to Senate Democrats eye Pompeo testimony On The Money: IMF estimates US-China trade war to shave 0.8 percent from global economy | NY prosecutors urge appeals court not to block Trump tax subpoena | Turkish bank linked to Giuliani client charged with fraud, money laundering MORE to help convince the Department of Justice (DOJ) to drop a criminal investigation against an Iranian-Turkish gold trader who was also a client of Trump's current personal lawyer, Rudy GiulianiRudy GiulianiHurd: No Ukrainian officials have told State Department 'they felt like their arms were being twisted' House Democrat pledges 'there will be open hearings' in impeachment inquiry Combatting fake news on social media will take a village MORE, Bloomberg reports.

Tillerson refused Trump's 2017 request, saying it would be illegal to interfere with an ongoing investigation. He repeated his stance to then-chief of staff John KellyJohn Francis KellyMORE in a hallway conversation in the White House.

ADVERTISEMENT

At the time, Reza Zarrab, the trader in question, was being prosecuted by a New York federal court on charges of evading U.S. sanctions against Iran’s nuclear program, according to Bloomberg. As a result, Zarrab hired Giuliani and former Attorney General Michael Mukasey.

Giuliani reportedly reached out to U.S. officials several times to resolve the situation outside of court.

The report comes amid growing scrutiny over the president's dealings with foreign leaders, especially in light of a recent whistleblower report that raised concerns over a phone call Trump held in which he pressed Ukraine's president to investigate former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenZuckerberg launches public defense of Facebook as attacks mount Graham: 'Stupid' for Trump to ask China to investigate Biden Romney: Republicans don't criticize Trump because they fear it will help Warren MORE and his son. The scandal has also implicated Giuliani, whose own dealings in Ukraine have drawn the attention of lawmakers in recent weeks.

The report also comes shortly after Trump announced he was pulling U.S. troops out of northeastern Syria ahead of an expected Turkish offensive against Kurdish forces there. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan announced on Wednesday that he had formally launched the invasion.

Zarrab's release was reportedly a high priority for Erdoğan until the trader decided to cooperate with New York prosecutors.

Tillerson has openly said that Trump asked him multiple times to do things that would break the law, according to Bloomberg.

Eventually, Zarrab pleaded guilty and reportedly testified against Mehmet Hakan Atilla, who was in charge of international banking at Halkbank, a state-owned Turkish bank.

Erdoğan, Zarrab said, knew and supported the laundering effort on behalf of Iran, according to the new outlet. The Turkish president has denied the allegations.

The White House, Kelly and Tillerson declined to comment to Bloomberg.