Earlier this week, US President Donald Trump’s personal attorney sent out an inflammatory letter to the Romanian president, Klaus Iohannis, criticizing the country’s anti-corruption crackdown.
In the letter dated 22 August, Rudy Giuliani, a former New York City mayor, berated what he called “excesses done by the National Anticorruption Agency (DNA) in the name of law enforcement” and called for an amnesty for “those who have been prosecuted and convicted following such excesses.”
The Romanian National Anticorruption Agency has been pivotal in the fight to rein in graft, credited by both the European Union and the United States for its efforts to hold politicians accountable for their crimes. The same agency has also be targeted by Romanian politicians seeking to blunt its power, a position Giuliani seems to have aligned himself with.
Contrary to US State Department policy, which has applauded the work done by DNA, Giuliani — who holds no public office — delivered remarks similar to that of the pro-government forces that only last month succeeded in taking down Romanian’s chief prosecutor.
'Nothing to do with the government'
Giuliani on Wednesday told the New York Times that the letter “has nothing to do with the US government”, adding that he is still an independent lawyer and consultant.
It has also been reported that the former US mayor was paid by a global consulting firm for his written opinion.
Giuliani said the letter he wrote was done on behalf of his own security firm while under retainer for Freeh Group, another security firm. Freeh Group is known for representing American-Romanian businessman Gabriel “Puiu” Popoviciu, who was convicted last year for seven years for corruption-related offences over a land purchase in Bucharest.
Following the conviction, Freeh Group issued a statement saying it was "disappointed" in the Romanian High Court's decision to uphold the conviction, adding that the "sentence and conviction are not supported by either the facts or the law".
Giuliani’s letter to the Romanian president caused a diplomatic stir when, on Monday, Romanian media began reporting on the unexpected gesture.
The US Embassy in Romania stepped in on Tuesday by saying that the US government does not comment on the opinions of a private citizen and that Romania has proven a “considerable progress in curbing corruption and building an efficient system for the rule of law. We encourage Romanians to keep on the same path.”
But Giuliani’s letter, which did not mention his role as personal lawyer to the US president, also prompted reactions from Romanian politicians, judges and NGO leaders alike.
‘Selling his image to the highest bidder’
While pro-government leaders welcomed the letter in an official statement, Romania’s ambassador to the US, George Maior, depicted it as the result of a lobbying effort of those facing legal problems. Dan Barna, leader of a local opposition party told Euronews that the letter “appears as if it has been drafted by Liviu Dragnea (ruling party leader) himself.”
Representatives for the ruling Social Democratic Party did not answer Euronews’ requests for comment.
Adrian Moraru, director of the NGO Institute for Public Policy, in a Facebook message to Euronews blasted Giuliani’s move.
“Giuliani is a businessman selling his image to the highest bidder. He probably doesn’t even know the name of Romania’s president or that of the chief prosecutor, let alone have any knowledge of what is going on in the country."
"He was just being used by corrupt politicians trying to influence Romanian laws.”