Giuliani, Giuliani, pants on fire

Rudy Giuliani, President Donald Trump's lawyer, was paid by a firm representing a convicted Romanian businessman to write that anti-corruption efforts in Romania had been exaggerated. 

Claudia Ciobanu
Claudia Ciobanu NewsMavens, Central & Eastern Europe
Giuliani, Giuliani, pants on fire - NewsMavens
Rudolph Giuliani 2018, Wikimedia Commons

Why this story matters:

The anti-corruption fight in Romania is highly politicized, with convicted and corrupt politicians trying to tarnish the reputation of anti-corruption prosecutors while anti-corruption prosecutors target the governing PSD (and, to be frank, don't always act by the book). 

While there are legitimate criticisms to be made of anti-corruption prosecutors, over the last years, we've seen a series of articles in international media -- not only comments but also texts passing as "reporting" -- making claims about the Romanian anti-corruption agency which seemed dubious. These included texts in reputable newspapers like The Telegraph or The Guardian

This week, Rudy Giuliani, President Donald Trump's attorney, wrote a letter to Romanian President Klaus Iohannis and Prime Minister Viorica Dăncilă claiming that the anti-corruption effort was overzealous, causing innocent people to be imprisoned. At first this seemed to be the latest salvo of a coordinated lobbying effort to tarnish the reputation of the agency both internationally and at home, which had never been properly investigated. 

But before too many eyebrows were raised in Romania, Giuliani himself revealed that he had been paid to write the letter -- which he says he did in a personal capacity -- by a consulting firm whose client is a convicted Romanian businessman.

In a world run by politicians who are often puppets to powerful lobbyists, and where "fake news" has become the norm, it is deeply satisfying to see a -- probably -- expensive foreign policy intervention being exposed for what it is. 

Not that choosing someone from Trump's entourage to preach probity was such a bright idea in the first place. 

Details from the story:

  • Rudolph Giuliani caused a diplomatic stir by writing to the Romanian president to criticise the “excesses made in the name of "law enforcement” by Romania’s national anti-corruption directorate. The agency, he said, had used unfair tactics against suspects and intimidated judges and lawyers. He said "innocent people had been jailed" and an amnesty should be considered. 
  • Giuliani later admitted he was paid by the Freeh Group, a private consultancy run by Giuliani’s friend Louis Freeh, a former FBI director and federal judge, to write the letter. 
  • The firm's client is Puiu Popoviciu, convicted two years ago in connection with illegal purchases of land in Bucharest and serving a seven-year jail sentence. 
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