Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, today formally requested National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien submit to Congress a series of internal documents and communications documenting the nature and national security implications of President Trump’s close ties with Turkey’s President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
The Senator’s request follows reporting by investigative journalists Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein that raise additional questions about Trump’s affinity for Erdogan and his susceptibility to political manipulation due to his preoccupation with advancing his personal and electoral interests.
“While it may have worked out for the President personally, this relationship has not worked out well for the national security of the United States, the country he was elected to lead,” wrote Senator Menendez.
In audio recordings made for Mr. Woodward’s book Rage, President Trump said that “I get along very well with Erdogan, even though you’re not supposed to because everyone says, ‘What a horrible guy.’ But, you know, for me it works out good.” In a June 29, 2020 CNN article, Mr. Bernstein wrote that Trump’s erratic decision to pull the U.S. military our of Syria was “directly linked to Erdogan’s ability to get his way with Trump on the phone calls.”
Requesting the White House hand over records for every interaction between Trump and Erdogan, Menendez pointed to Trump’s refusal to impose legally mandated sanctions on Turkey for its purchase of Russia’s S400 air defense missile system, as well as the President’s indolence after Erdogan converted the Hagia Sophia and the Kariye museums into mosques.
Also cited were the White House’s failed campaign to block Menendez’s legislation officially recognizing the Armenian Genocide on behalf of the U.S. Congress, and Trump’s reported interference of U.S. law enforcement investigations at Erdogan’s behest.
“In each of these examples, President Trump’s positions or silence appears to have been swayed by his relationship with President Erdo?an, or his own personal interests in Turkey, rather focused on promoting U.S. national security interests,” added Menendez.