The Turkish government has hired FBI Director Christopher Wray’s longtime friend and former law partner Andrew C. Hruska to work on an unspecified proposal to the Justice Department, reported by US media outlet The Daily Caller.
Basing on the newly filed government documents Chuck Ross, an investigative reporter of the Daily Caller, has written on Tuesday that Hruska, a partner at the law firm King & Spalding, recently registered as a foreign agent of Turkey, according to documents released by the Justice Department on Saturday.
The filings state that King & Spalding, where Wray worked until taking the FBI job, was hired “to prepare and present a proposal to the US Department of Justice for cooperation between the governments of the United States and Turkey regarding the handling of a US legal matter.”
“You are engaging the firm to provide legal services in connection with a specific matter,” reads a contract signed on Nov. 21, 2017 by Hruska and Turkish Ambassador Serdar Kılıc.
The Daily Caller wrote that there is no indication of impropriety with the agreement. And it is unclear whether the FBI would also be involved in the case that Hruska has been tapped to handle. But Hruska’s close relationship to Wray raises questions about the Turkish government’s rationale for hiring the lawyer. Hruska and Wray have known each other for 45 years and attended kindergarten, high school and college together. They worked together in the George W. Bush Justice Department before joining King & Spalding. Hruska vouched for Wray in several interviews prior to his confirmation as FBI director.
“He thinks clearly, he makes commitments, he keeps commitments,” Hruska told NPR of his pal in an interview earlier this year. Hruska’s hiring fits Ankara’s pattern of hiring well-connected lobbyists and lawyers to handle some of its most controversial projects.
Earlier this year, the Turkish government hired Trump confidant Rudolph Giuliani as part of the legal team representing Reza Zarrab, a Turkish-Iranian gold trader who faced money laundering and bribery charges for operating a scheme to skirt sanctions against Iran. The Turkish government and its autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan have kept a watchful eye on the case because of evidence that implicates Erdoğan and members of his family in the sanctions busting scheme.
The daily stated that Giuliani was hired to negotiate a potential deal between the Trump administration and Turkish government to prevent the Zarrab case from going to trial. The deal apparently fell through as Zarrab recently pleaded guilty and has testified against the Turkish government in federal court in New York City.
The Turkish embassy has also hired Ballard Partners, a Florida-based lobbying shop operated by Brian Ballard, one of the Trump campaign’s top Florida fundraisers.
Ballard has been paid a total of $1,125 million so far this year by the Turkish government and Halkbank, a government-owned bank whose executives have been charged in the Zarrab case. Lobbying disclosure reports show that Ballard held several meetings with White House officials to discuss “US-Turkey relations.”
The Turkish government made another high-profile connection to Trumpworld last year. In Aug. 2016, a Turkish businessman who operates a trade group controlled by the government signed a $600,000 contract with retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn. The aim of the project was to develop a media campaign against Fethullah Gülen, a Turkish Muslim scholar living in exile in the US. Erdoğan has expressed outrage towards the US for harboring Gülen. He has raised Gülen’s extradition with both Presidents Trump and Obama, and his government ministers regularly broach the issue with top State Department and Justice Department officials.
The Turkish government claims to have turned over evidence tying Gülen to the coup. But Gülen denies being involved in the failed putsch, and the US government has indicated that the Turks have not provided enough evidence to support their allegations.
In another case, the Turkish government has pressured US authorities over charges filed against members of Erdoğan’s security for an attack they waged against peaceful protesters outside of Ambassador Kılıç’s residence in Washington, D.C. on May 16, 2017. Erdoğan and Kılıç were on the scene that day as a group of Erdoğan’s bodyguards and supporters attacked the protesters. Fifteen members of Erdoğan’s security detail and four civilian supporters of the authoritarian leader were indicted in the case.
According to the report by Daily Caller, there is no indication that Hruska has been involved in those cases, though it was revealed on Saturday that charges were dropped last month against four members of Erdoğan’s security detail.
The report said an English-language Turkish news outlet called Ahval reported that the charges were dropped on Nov. 7, a couple of weeks before Hruska signed the contract with the Turkish government. Hruska did not respond to a request for comment about the legal matter he was hired by the Turkish government to handle. The Turkish embassy also did not reply to a request for comment.