The Trump administration distanced itself from Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani after he made comments about U.S. relations with North Korea and Iran. The State Department clarified that while Giuliani represents President Donald Trump on issues relating to the Mueller investigation, he does not speak for the administration on foreign policy concerns.
Since joining the president's legal team, the former mayor of New York City has been weighing in publicly on plenty of topics, sparking confusion not only with his comments on the Stormy Daniels controversy, but also on his statements on foreign policy priorities within the White House.
The State Department set out on Monday to clear up the confusion, saying that Giuliani's remarks on foreign relations do not represent the administration.
“He speaks for himself and not on behalf of the administration on foreign policy,” said State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert, according to CBS News.
Members of the Trump administration were initially caught off guard when Giuliani confirmed that Trump repaid a $130,000 payment to Stormy Daniels before the election, forcing administration officials to scramble to work up a response to a flood of questions in response to Giuliani's statement, which appeared to contradict earlier statements from the White House on the issue.
Trump himself seemed annoyed at his lawyer's remarks, telling reporters on Friday that Giuliani will “get his facts straight,” and White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters that she isn't aware of any foreign policy issues listed on his portfolio.
And as the Trump administration gears up to deal with sensitive issues regarding North Korea and Iran, Giuliani's blitz of media appearances in which he discussed foreign policy didn't help either.
During an appearance on Fox News last week, Giuliani seemed to confirm that three Americans detained in North Korea would be released, despite the White House issuing no official statement on the topic as the U.S. prepares for a meeting between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
“We got Kim Jong Un impressed enough to be releasing three prisoners today,” Giuliani said, to the annoyance of officials involved in the cautious negotiations with the Kim regime.
During a speech before the Organization of Iranian-American Communities on Saturday, Giuliani rocked the boat again when he claimed Trump is “committed” to regime change in Iran, something administration officials have denied.
While Trump has been critical of the Iran nuclear deal, he has not expressed a desire to overthrow the Iranian leaders.
Outside experts have criticized the general sense of confusion stemming from the communications team at the White House, with advisers often relaying different information that leaves the public and foreign leaders alike unsure of where Trump actually stands.
Ned Price, a former spokesman for the White House National Security Council in the Obama administration, explained problem if the international community sees U.S. officials as lacking credibility. He criticized Giuliani's premature statement on the negotiations over the detainees in North Korea and called for better cohesion on Trump's advisory team.
“You have foreign governments reading the tea leaves based on what people like Giuliani are saying,” Price said. “Not only does it put their families in this absolutely painful position, but in the worst event it could actually be counterproductive if the North Koreans think we're spiking the football.”
Meanwhile, Trump is gearing up to announce his decision on the Iran nuclear accord ahead of reports that he will pull out of the deal in a contentious move opposed by many world leaders.