Letter to Secretary Mnuchin

Ron Wyden, Ranking Minority Member
October 24, 2019

Related Country: 

  • Turkey

Dear Secretary Mnuchin:

I am writing to you concerning troubling reports regarding your involvement with the Administration’s treatment of Turkey’s state-owned bank Halkbank and U.S. law enforcement investigations into the bank’s efforts to aide Iran in circumventing U.S. economic sanctions. Bloomberg recently reported that in April 2019, President Trump instructed you, along with Attorney General Barr, to address Turkish President Recep Erdogan’s requests that state-owned bank Halkbank avoid charges for evading sanctions against Iran.  The President’s instructions reportedly came after a call that month with Erdogan.   In addition, the New York Times recently reported that Turkish officials appealed directly to you over actions related to Halkbank,  and in April 2019 you met with the Turkish finance minister in the Oval Office, along with the President and Jared Kushner.  

These reports are part of a larger story highlighting President Trump’s efforts to accommodate the intense pressure campaign by the Turkish government to get investigations into Halkbank dropped.   In 2017, President Trump reportedly asked Secretary of State Tillerson to pressure the Justice Department to drop the case against a co-conspirator in the Halkbank-assisted sanctions evasion schemes, Reza Zarrab, who had an office in Trump Tower Istanbul and was a client at the time of the President’s attorney Rudy Giuliani.