The United States has a new diplomat in an Eastern European country whose governance Rudy Giuliani has said he sought to influence at the behest of paying interests—not in Ukraine, but Romania.
While the House impeachment proceedings zeroed in on President Trump and Mr. Giuliani’s alleged actions involving Ukrainian affairs, the U.S. Senate confirmed Adrian Zuckerman by a 65-30 vote as the new U.S. Ambassador to Romania on Wednesday.
Mr. Zuckerman is a real estate lawyer from the law firm Seyfarth Shaw in New York City who immigrated to the United States from Romania as a child and still speaks fluent Romanian. He said at a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on his nomination in June that he wished to repay American hospitality by advancing U.S. interests in Romania.
“If confirmed, I would offer continued support for Romania’s noteworthy anti-corruption efforts,” Mr. Zuckerman testified in June. “Fighting corruption and support[ing] judicial independence are vital to Romania’s long-term prosperity and security.”
Romania’s anti-corruption efforts previously drew scrutiny from Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer, Mr. Giuliani who appeared to contradict the U.S. State Department’s existing policy position last year.
At the behest of a global consulting firm run by former FBI director Louis Freeh, Mr. Giuliani wrote an August 2018 letter to Romania’s president claiming Romania’s National Anticorruption Directorate had crossed the line of acceptable behavior.
Mr. Giuliani requested that amnesty be granted to various people prosecuted in Romania, shortly after the State Department urged Romania to continue its “considerable progress in combatting corruption and building effective rule of law.”
When Mr. Giuliani’s private advocacy became public through press reports, Mr. Giuliani insisted he “had no intention of hiding it” and would have offered the same advice to the Romanian government regardless of who asked him to do so.
Whether Mr. Zuckerman shares Mr. Giuliani’s concerns appears unclear, but Mr. Zuckerman pledged in testimony to the Senate to “support” Romania’s anti-corruption efforts in language that appeared more similar to the State Department’s approach. In his testimony, Mr. Zuckerman also praised Romania’s efforts alongside the United States to support Ukrainian sovereignty, including with humanitarian and development aid.
Mr. Giuliani’s alleged conversations with Ukranian officials about their anti-corruption practices were the basis for former Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland’s accusation on Wednesday that Mr. Giuliani had pushed for a “quid pro quo” on behalf of Mr. Trump.
Mr. Sondland told lawmakers at Wednesday’s impeachment inquiry hearings that Mr. Giuliani had gone rogue from the State Department’s preferred diplomatic approach in Ukraine.
While Mr. Giuliani’s alleged actions contradicting State Department policy in Ukraine have become central to the House’s impeachment inquiry, Mr. Giuliani’s alleged contradiction of State Department policy in Romania remains far less controversial.