A prominent replacement for Donald Trump's 2016 campaign, Rudy Giuliani was an active supplier of primaries on the FBI investigation of Hillary Clinton's emails. As a member of Trump's transition, he played a political role at a time that was central to Robert Muller's investigation in Russia.
But Trump lawyer Jay Sekulow says these details are not a known obstacle to former New York City Mayor joining Trump's legal team.
Story continued below
"There are no conflicts over the presidential representation of Mayor Giuliani, which would affect this case," Sekulow told POLITICO on Friday.
Giuliani was announced as Trump's Newest Lawyer This week amid an escalating federal investigation by longtime Trump Organization lawyer Michael Cohen, whose office and home were raided earlier this month. But Giuliani, who has been known as Mueller for decades, said his job is to push ahead with the Russia probe, which includes questions about whether Trump wants to obstruct the judiciary, including negotiating Trump's participation in an interview
Giuliani, a former US lawyer in Manhattan, has known Müller for decades, usually a good place for a defender. The catch? Giuliani played a role in various matters that seemed interesting to Mueller's team and led to potential conflicts, depending on how Mueller acts, other lawyers said.
"The big problem here is how likely it is to witness the case, whether it's on a grand jury or otherwise," said Loyola Law School Professor Laurie Levenson, a former federal prosecutor. "You can not be a witness and a lawyer in the same case, that's the big sticking point."
While Giuliani held no formal position in the Trump presidential campaign, he often opened for Trump during rallies in the last months of the race, a role that would have brought him into contact with top activists. He acknowledged that he was in contact with FBI officials during the 201
Giuliani's former law firm Bracewell & Giuliani advised Trump's data mining service provider Cambridge Analytica on its obligations under US law.
After Trump's victory, Giuliani was officially appointed Deputy Chairman of Trump's presidential switch team in late November 2016. However, his role in the transition is bleak. Giuliani and Governor Chris Christie (R-NJ) were initially considered important players in the transition period, but were later pushed aside. Giuliani has almost confirmed that he hoped to be nominated Secretary of State, but Trump decided against it.
An attorney for the Trump transition confirmed last December that the prosecutor of Mueller had access to the emails of at least 13 people getting the transition. There is no evidence that Giuliani was among them, but the questions centered on personnel involved in national security issues and political issues, which already gave Giuliani's communication with Trump consultants.
Another point of contention: Giuliani's efforts to negotiate a deal to solve the case of Turkish-Iranian gold trader Reza Zarrab, accused of violating US law by helping Iran relate economic sanctions to deal with its nuclear program. Giuliani revealed in an affidavit filed last April that he met with Turkish President Recep Erdogan to solve Zarrab's case as part of an "agreement between the US and Turkey that promotes US national security interests."  NBC News reported last November that Mueller had investigated whether the fired National Security Advisor Flynn was also involved in ending Zarrab's US prosecution. Several weeks after the NBC report, Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to investigators and agreed to work with Müller. Flynn admitted he had made false statements about his work on Turkey.
"Giuliani can not talk about Zarrab, a former client, or reveal any information he has learned at his representation. It is outside the base," said New York University law professor Stephen Gillers.
It's unclear how Mueller actively pursued Turkey-related issues at this time and what information Mueller's office might have about her as a result of her interviews with Flynn. Flynn's lawyers reportedly stopped communicating with Trump's lawyers just before turning to the deal. Zarrab finally pleaded guilty and agreed to cooperate. In a lawsuit against a co-conspirator, Zarrab said he had made $ 150 million in Iran's money.
Trump's legal department has come to the conclusion that Giuliani is not a witness in Russia, Trump's lawyers are not sure of the exact limits of what Mueller is investigating.
"Rudy Giuliani is sufficiently associated with past historical events that both he and Mueller should be wary of potential conflicts of interest," said Paul Rosenzweig, a fellow at R Street Institute and former senior counsel to Whitewater Independent Counsel Kenneth Rigid. "There is no evidence in the public facts, and I have a great deal of confidence that Giuliani or Mueller and his team will make them known should they actually come to fruition."
Of course, Giuliani's office could be warned by Müller of potential conflicts, but such warnings usually occur during legal proceedings and not during the usual back-and-forth between lawyers and prosecutors.
A spokesman for Mueller's office declined to say whether Giuliani was in contact with Müllers team or Trumps The decision to keep Giuliani was reviewed with the Special Adviser.
Giuliani left New York law firm Greenberg Traurig this week to join Trump's team. The company said only that Giuliani "took a leave of absence effective today, for an indefinite period of time, to handle matters not related to the law firm or its clients."
A spokeswoman for the company declined to answer questions as to why Giuliani Trump could not represent the company and whether there was a conflict of interest with the company's existing customers. However, Greenberg Sad said last year that his client list includes Deutsche Bank, a major lender, Trump, the Trump organization, and the family real estate firm of Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner. Last December, Bloomberg reported that Mueller had summoned Deutsche Bank to Trump for lending records. The news agency later corrected the story to say that the summons came from Müller but did not target Trump.
"GT is the attorney for Deutsche Bank in a range of litigation, corporate and compliance matters in the United States and abroad," wrote Greenberg attorney Laurence Levy.
The potential of Giuliani to advise Trump on a possible interview with Mueller could be even more complicated if the former mayor and US attorney is involved in one of the facts investigated by the Special Adviser.
Republican lawmakers have repeatedly complained that former FBI director James Comey allowed Clinton lawyers Cheryl Mills and Heather Samuelson to sit in Clinton's interview with the FBI in July 2016, despite their role in the elimination of Clinton Messages played, some of which had been decided.
While many conflicts between customers can be dispensed with, it is sometimes easier said than done.
Just last month, the Trump team announced that former US attorney Joseph DiGenova and his partner and wife Victoria Toensing joined the group of lawyers advising Trump in the Mueller Trial. A few days later, Trump's aides changed course, saying that the couple would not attend because of conflicts with other witnesses they represented during the investigation.
As the episode unfolded, Trump insisted that highly-qualified lawyers make their way to his door.
"Many lawyers and top law firms want to represent me in the case of Russia … do not believe the fake news narrative that it is difficult to find a lawyer who wants to take on this fame and fortune will never be from a lawyer rejected, although some are conflicting, "wrote Trump.
But Trump is at Giuliani despite his A potentially problematic campaign, a transition and the work in Turkey are a sign that there are few lawyers to be recognized.
"I know that the president said that everyone wants to represent me, I do not know if that's true … There simply is not a huge pool of people who have the experience, the interest or the desire," said Levenson.
But, Levenson noted, Giuliani may be making a rent just for the moment. He was announced alongside Jane Serene Raskin and Marty Raskin, partner spouses of spouses, and Trump is closely associated, among others, with his former lawyer Marc Kasowitz.
"The same reason why Trump wants [Giuliani] – his knowledge and access – makes it likely that he will have some kind of conflict," Levenson said. "It can be a short-term representation."