Businessman Reza Zarrab had ties to leading Turkish government officials who had urged the US to drop charges of violating US sanctions against the Iranian nuclear program. He was a client of Giuliani.
During the session of the White House, President Giuliani and former Attorney General Michael Mukasey invited to contact Tillerson, according to the source.
Following the meeting, Tillerson mentioned the discussion with then Chief of Staff John Kelly, who did not attend the meeting, and noted that it was a deal he could not support.
The episode is another reflection of Trump's attempt to use his office to influence the ongoing proceedings of the Department of Justice. And the news comes that his relations with Giuliani and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan are under scrutiny. Giuliani proposed the exchange of Zarrab against an American pastor, Andrew Brunson, held by Turkey. Asked by the President if the deal was a deal he could support, Tillerson said he could not intervene.
The President asked Tillerson if the deal was something Jeff Sessions, then the attorney general, could do. Tillerson replied that sessions would struggle with the fact that this is an ongoing process. He also told the president that this was a bad policy, as it could endanger other Americans and increase the prospect that more hostages could be used as leverage for similar deals.
Mukasey, who worked with Giuliani to represent Zarrab, told the president that it was an agreement he could order as president because it was in his power. Trump asked Tillerson and Giuliani to reach an agreement.
Tillerson said after he could not support it.
Giuliani traced the possible deal directly with Tillerson after the Oval Office meeting and was rejected, the source said. Giuliani and Mukasey also made similar attitudes to Justice Department officials who objected, sources said.
Mukasey, who arrived on Thursday, said he would not discuss the White House meeting and declined to comment. The White House did not respond to a request for comment. Tillerson did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Giuliani first denied the episode to Bloomberg, but later said it was possible that it was true.
"Suppose I talked to Trump about that ̵
In the meantime, Trump's relationship with Erodgan has regained attention after talking to the authoritarian leader over the weekend and abruptly announcing that US troops would withdraw from northern Syria, paving the way for a Turkish invasion.
Since leaving the State Department in 2018, Tillerson has expressed Trump's habit of asking him to do things that are unaware that such acts violate the law.
"When The President would say, 'Here's what I want to do and here's how I want to do it.' And I would have to tell him: 'Well, Mr President, I understand what you mean It's against the law, he said during a fundraiser in December 19659002] Tillerson said Trump would "really get frustrated" if he were told that his requests were illegal would be.