A fine WordPress.com site
WASHINGTON — Rudolph W. Giuliani, facing a flood of questions about whether his business dealings should disqualify him from being named President-elect Donald Trump’s secretary of state, on Tuesday defended his lucrative 15 years in the private sector as a credential for the job.
“I have friends all over the world,” Giuliani, the former New York mayor, said in an interview. “This is not a new thing for me. When you become the mayor, you become interested in foreign policy. When I left, my major work was legal and security around the world.”
As secretary of state, Giuliani, a loyal, often ferocious backer of Trump’s candidacy, would make fighting Islamist terrorism the centerpiece of the incoming administration’s foreign policy. He vaulted to national prominence because of his leadership after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, and he still views foreign policy through the prism of that day.
But Giuliani’s business ties are a major red flag. He built a lucrative consulting and speechmaking career after leaving City Hall. His firm, Giuliani Partners, has had contracts with the government of Qatar and the Canadian company that is building the Keystone XL pipeline, and Giuliani has given paid speeches to a shadowy Iranian opposition group that until 2012 was on the State Department’s list of foreign terrorist organizations.
In one year — 2006 — Giuliani reported in a financial disclosure report that he had made 124 speeches, for as much as $200,000 each, and had earned a total of $11.4 million. He often made extravagant demands in return for agreeing to make a speech, including that the private plane that flew him to the engagement be of a certain size.
During the presidential campaign, Trump repeatedly criticized Hillary Clinton for her speeches to Goldman Sachs, as well as for contributions Qatar made to the Clinton Foundation, which he claimed betrayed her commitment to women’s and gay rights because of Qatar’s poor record on both.
This week, Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, questioned Giuliani’s fitness for the job, pointing to his list of paid speeches, his work for foreign governments and his support for the Iraq War. Trump has long claimed erroneously that he opposed the war.
“It is worrisome, some of the ties to foreign governments, because that was a big complaint about many of us with Hillary Clinton and her ties and the money she received from foreign governments,” Paul told CNN on Tuesday.
Giuliani defended his firm’s work for Qatar — which he said included training the Qatari police and analyzing the security of a desalinization plant — because he said it was done under the previous emir, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, who abdicated in 2013. Giuliani said he consulted the State Department about the contracts and was told that Khalifa was friendly toward the United States.
Giuliani said he was one of dozens of prominent Americans who worked for the Iranian opposition group known as the Mujahedeen Khalq, or the MEK — drawing payments at the same time it was on a State Department list designating it a terrorist organization. He sought to persuade the State Department to revoke its terrorist listing, which the Americans did in September 2012.
“My ties to them are very open,” Giuliani said. “We worked very hard to get them delisted — by Hillary Clinton, by the way.”
Another Giuliani client, the energy company TransCanada, applied to build the Keystone XL pipeline in the United States, and was rejected last year by President Barack Obama after a recommendation by Secretary of State John Kerry. If it decided to apply again for permission and Giuliani ends up at the State Department, the application would land on his desk.
Giuliani did not address that issue directly in the interview, saying only that his firm had offered security advice to TransCanada, when it had a partnership to build a natural-gas facility on Long Island Sound. The proposal was turned down.