Oct 10, 2019

Report: Trump pressed Rex Tillerson on Rudy Giuliani client

Rex Tillerson looks at Trump after a 9/11 memorial service in 2017. Photo: Brendan Smiaowski/AFP/Getty Images

President Trump pressed former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to "help persuade the Justice Department to drop a criminal case against an Iranian-Turkish gold trader" in 2017, which Tillerson reportedly refused and described as illegal, Bloomberg reports.

The big picture: Trump is currently facing an impeachment inquiry that grew from a whistleblower report on his interactions with another foreign leader, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Between the lines: The dismissal of gold trader Reza Zarrab’s case was a high priority for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan until the trader "agreed to cooperate" with New York prosecutors, per Bloomberg.

  • Zarrab was also a client of Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani at the time — and part of the president's request included asking Tillerson to speak with Giuliani.
  • Tillerson reportedly refused Trump's request on the grounds that it would interfere in an ongoing investigation against Zarrab "on charges of evading U.S. sanctions against Iran’s nuclear program," Bloomberg reports.

The big picture: This week, the president received swift bipartisan backlash after withdrawing U.S. forces from northern Syria where Turkish troops are expected to advance. Trump's announcement took place after a phone call with Erdoğan.

  • Sanctions against Turkey are already on the table. Erdoğan said on Wednesday the country had already launched its offensive against U.S.-allied Kurdish fighters and Islamic State operatives in northern Syria.

Go deeper

The wreckage of summer

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

We usually think of Memorial Day as the start of the summer, with all of the fun and relaxation that goes with it — but this one is just going to remind us of all of the plans that have been ruined by the coronavirus.

Why it matters: If you thought it was stressful to be locked down during the spring, just wait until everyone realizes that all the traditional summer activities we've been looking forward to are largely off-limits this year.

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 8 a.m. ET: 5,428,605 — Total deaths: 345,375 — Total recoveries — 2,179,408Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 8 a.m. ET: 1,643,499 — Total deaths: 97,722 — Total recoveries: 366,736 — Total tested: 14,163,915Map.
  3. World: White House announces travel restrictions on Brazil Over 100 cases in Germany tied to single day of church services.
  4. Public health: Officials are urging Americans to wear masks over Memorial Day.
  5. Economy: White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett says it's possible the unemployment rate could still be in double digits by November's election.
  6. Federal government: Trump attacks a Columbia University study that suggests earlier lockdown could have saved 36,000 American lives.
  7. What should I do? Hydroxychloroquine questions answeredTraveling, asthma, dishes, disinfectants and being contagiousMasks, lending books and self-isolatingExercise, laundry, what counts as soap — Pets, moving and personal healthAnswers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingHow to minimize your risk.
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it, the right mask to wear.

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Updated 5 hours ago - Politics & Policy

U.S. coronavirus updates

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios. This graphic includes "probable deaths" that New York City began reporting on April 14.

The CDC is warning of potentially "aggressive rodent behavior" amid a rise in reports of rat activity in several areas, as the animals search further for food while Americans stay home more during the coronavirus pandemic.

By the numbers: More than 97,700 people have died from COVID-19 and over 1.6 million have tested positive in the U.S. Over 366,700 Americans have recovered and more than 14.1 million tests have been conducted.