Rudy Giuliani may be breaking one of the same laws Paul Manafort is accused of violating — and he admits that a Russian business recently asked to become his client.
The president’s lawyer still personally represents foreign clients while defending Trump against the special counsel investigation, which raises ethical concerns and may violate federal law, reported the Washington Post.
Giuliani told the newspaper that he worked for clients in Brazil and Colombia, as well as other countries, and regularly received payments for speeches and other work on behalf of the Iranian dissident group Mujahideen-e-Khalq, or MEK, which was listed as a terrorist group by the State Department as recently as 2012.
The former New York City mayor admitted he had never registered with the Justice Department as a foreign lobbyist, saying that he did not need to because he did not directly lobby the U.S. government and was not billing Trump for his services.
“I’ve never lobbied him on anything,” Giuliani said, referring to the president. “I don’t represent foreign government in front of the U.S. government. I’ve never registered to lobby.”
Manafort, the president’s former campaign chairman, was indicted for violating the Foreign Agents Registration Act, in addition to fraud, money laundering and other charges.
Like Giuliani and his legal work, Manafort did not charge Trump for his campaign work in 2016.
Giuliani insists that he’s not required to register as a foreign lobbyist, but ethics experts disagree.
“I think Rudy believes because he is doing the job pro bono the rules do not apply to him, but they do,” said Carrie Menkel-Meadow, a legal ethics professor at University of California-Irvine.
Giuliani claims he never discusses his other clients with Trump, although other White House officials admit they cannot say whether that’s true, and he says the president doesn’t even know who his other clients are.
“I really don’t think he does,” Giuliani told the Post. “He knows I do a lot of security work all over the world.”
Giuliani revealed to the newspaper that he had recently turned down a Russian business that approached him as a potential client, but he declined to identify the company.
He also defended his work for Kharkiv mayor Gennady “Gepa” Kernes, who was previously close to deposed Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych — a Manafort client.
Kernes has since tried to align himself with the new Ukraine government and was nearly killed by a gunman in 2014, which his allies blame on Russian president Vladimir Putin.
“I wasn’t concerned about them because he just got his legs blown off by Putin,” Giuliani told the Post when asked about Kernes ties to the Kremlin. “Maybe those ties were before.”