Giuliani urged Trump to eject exiled Turkish cleric from US: report

President TrumpDonald John TrumpRouhani says Iran will never seek nuclear weapons Trump downplays seriousness of injuries in Iran attack after US soldiers treated for concussions Trump says Bloomberg is 'wasting his money' on 2020 campaign MORE's personal attorney Rudy GiulianiRudy GiulianiSenate rejects subpoenaing Mulvaney to testify in impeachment trial GOP rejects effort to compel documents on delayed Ukraine aid Citizens United put out a welcome mat for Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman MORE urged him in 2017 to agree to Turkey's requests to eject an exiled Turkish cleric from the U.S., The Washington Post reported Tuesday night.

Giuliani, who was not the president's attorney at the time, told Trump that the U.S. should remove Fethullah Gulen from the country, former officials told the Post.

Turkey has requested Gulen be turned over to face trial for allegedly plotting a coup against Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

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One formal official told the Post he called the topic Giuliani's "hobby horse" because of how often the former mayor brought up Gulen. In 2017, some senior officials confronted Giuliani, asking him not to bring up the subject in front of the president.

The president was open to Giuliani's suggestion, the Post reported, and asked advisers why the Turkish cleric could not be given to "my friend" Erdoğan. Officials advised Trump against it.

Turkish state media reported a U.S. delegation spoke with Turkish officials in January about Erdogan's request to extradite Gulen, according to the Post.

The former New York City mayor is not registered as a foreign lobbyist, as would be required if he were paid to promote a foreign country's interests. 

Giuliani told the Post he never represented Turkey and declined to say why he wanted Gulen turned over to the country, saying he could not “comment on it that would be complete attorney client privilege but sounds wacky.” 

He also called the allegations from the former officials "bull" and said he "will not participate in an illegitimate, unconstitutional, and baseless 'impeachment inquiry.'"

Giuliani's involvement in international affairs has been criticized in recent days after a whistleblower report called him a "central figure" in the Ukraine controversy, in which Trump asked the Ukrainian president to look into former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenSanders joins Biden atop 2020 Democratic field: poll The Hill's Morning Report - Trump trial begins with clashes, concessions Trump says impeachment lawyers were 'really good' MORE, a 2020 Democratic front-runner.

The U.S.-Turkey relationship has become strained after Trump removed U.S. troops from Syria, allowing Turkey to launch an offensive against the Kurds, who are U.S. allies. U.S. lawmakers have blasted the president for the removal of the troops.

The Hill has reached out to the White House for comment.

Updated at 9:57 p.m.