Rudy Giuliani's Business Ties Present Potential Conflicts Of Interest
ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:
Rudolph Giuliani, who's being mentioned as a possible secretary of state in a Trump administration, is best known for having been mayor of New York City on 9/11. In fact the terrorist attacks were near the end of his eight-year administration. Since then, Giuliani has been in business as a consultant, as a public speaker.
Ever since he sought the Republican presidential nomination in 2008, he's been dogged by questions about the potential conflicts raised by his business career as head of Giuliani Partners. The New York Times reports on those questions, and Times reporter Eric Lipton joins us now. Hi. Welcome to the program.
ERIC LIPTON: Thank you.
SIEGEL: What are the potential conflicts that Giuliani would presumably have to answer for if he were to be, say, secretary of state?
LIPTON: The most significant has to do with when he worked for foreign governments. For example, Qatar in the Middle East - the state oil company there retained his firm, and Giuliani worked for Qatar on issues relating to their operations there. And so here you have a potential future secretary of state who had a prior business relationship with a country in the Middle East, that has an important partner to the United States in terms of the base - a base for military operations but also in terms of some discomfort relative to their role in supporting groups that may be contributing to terrorism.
So he has quite a number of these relationships. He worked for Trans-Canada, the company that proposed the Keystone Pipeline. And while he didn't explicitly work on the Keystone Pipeline project, he did financially, you know, receive money from the company. And it's the State Department that was asked to decide whether or not the Keystone Pipeline should be approved.
SIEGEL: You mention Qatar. Back in late 2007 when Giuliani was riding high in the polls, he went on "Meet The Press," and late host of the program Tim Russert grilled him about his business deals. Here's what Giuliani told Russert about working for Qatar at that time.
(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "MEET THE PRESS")
RUDY GIULIANI: The reality is that Qatar is an ally of the United States. There are a significant number of American troops that are stationed in Qatar. What we did for them and do for them is security for their facilities.
SIEGEL: Interestingly, this year, Republicans made hay out of the Clinton Foundation's dealings with Qatar.
LIPTON: Yeah, I mean there are a fair number of overlaps between what Rudy Giuliani did since he left office and some of the stuff that Hillary Clinton did. He was a - quite a prolific speech giver. He was speaking to Wall Street banks. He traveled the world before, you know, major corporations and also government entities at times. And he made tens of millions of dollars doing that.
And in one year alone, he made $11 million in 2006 from speeches he gave. So there's a fair number of things that will be looked back at. It doesn't mean that he's not confirmable. It just means these are things that will be looked at.
SIEGEL: Giuliani spoke with your New York Times colleague Mark Landler for this story. How does he account for his business? Does he seem to see that there's - that there are hurdles he has to clear in order to be confirmed?
LIPTON: I mean he was quite enthusiastic in addressing questions yesterday when we spoke with him for about 20 minutes. And he went through the different engagements that he'd had, and he explained why he'd thought that they did not present conflict of interest.
And you know, one thing that it did offer him was an opportunity to travel around the world, to meet world leaders and to learn more about world issues. He was a very popular figure after the September 11 attacks, and he was offering, you know, advice on management and on security. And so he sees this as, you know, a normal business opportunity that he took part in. And that's nothing that should prevent him from serving as secretary of state.
SIEGEL: This story that you did was all about the potential conflicts that might be raised if Giuliani is nominated to be secretary of state. From the sound of it, he didn't regard that as a remote prospect at this point. Let's put it that way.
LIPTON: No, I mean he has - I mean he ran for president, you know? So he of course thought, you know, there was a potential he was going to be in public office. But I mean other than through the rise of Donald Trump, I mean there hasn't been much consideration of Giuliani coming back into the public sector.
So I mean I think it clearly is going to be a subject of debate and potentially a hurdle for him in the Senate. But it's unclear at this point if it's going to be something that will prevent him from getting confirmation.
SIEGEL: Eric Lipton of The New York Times, thanks for talking with us.
LIPTON: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.