Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan waves as he arrives at the entrance to the West Wing to meet with President Donald Trump at the entrance to the West Wing of the White House, Washington, May 16, 2017. (photo by REUTERS/Joshua Roberts)
New voices join Washington clamor over beatdown by Erdogan guards
Author: Amberin Zaman Posted May 23, 2017
Anger over the thuggish behavior of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan s security guards who brutally assaulted protesters outside the Turkish ambassador s residence in Washington shows no sign of abating as more US lawmakers call for the administration to take action against them.
Summary Print More US lawmakers are calling for action against the Turkish president’s security detail after it beat up protesters in Washington, while the Turkish Foreign Ministry complains of what it calls “aggressive” conduct by “US security personnel.”
In a letter dated May 19 addressed to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on behalf of 12 fellow members of the House, Carolyn B. Maloney, a Democratic representative for New York s 12th congressional district, said that the Turkish security guards should be arrested, prosecuted and jailed. Maloney noted that the guards had kicked men and women crouched on the ground and disregarded numerous commands by police to cease and desist. Maloney cited incredibly disturbing video footage documenting the violence around Sheridan Circle. She urged Tillerson to “use all tools at your disposal so that these men are denied diplomatic immunity and prosecuted to the fullest extent of U.S. law. In an interview with Fox News May 21, Tillerson called the incident simply unacceptable. He reminded the audience that the State Department had summoned the Turkish ambassador, Serdar Kilic, to discuss the matter. He said, There is an ongoing investigation we’ll wait and see what the outcome of that investigation is.
It’s probably too late for justice. The security detail, two members of which were reportedly detained and then freed after invoking diplomatic immunity, flew home with Erdogan. At best, those who are positively identified as having engaged in the beatings may be denied future entry to the United States. Several administration officials speaking to Al-Monitor on condition of anonymity claimed that Tillerson has developed an antipathy for the Erdogan government following his trip to Turkey in late March. He saw their real face and he doesn t much like them, said one of the sources. Relations between the NATO allies sunk to new lows after President Donald Trump authorized the Pentagon to directly arm the People s Protection Units (YPG), the Syrian Kurdish militia that is the United States premier partner in the fight against the Islamic State in Syria.
Turkey, however, labels the group a terrorist entity because of its ties to the Kurdistan Workers Party, which is waging a bloody campaign for self-rule inside Turkey. Erdogan had been hoping to persuade Trump to sever all ties with the Syrian Kurdish outfit during a 23-minute face-to-face meeting in the White House earlier that day, but failed. In an apparent tit for tat, the Turkish Foreign Ministry summoned the US ambassador to Ankara, John Bass, on May 22 over what it termed the aggressive and unproffessional [sic] actions taken, contrary to diplomatic rules and practices, by US security personnel toward Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu s own security detail, which apparently was also present at the scene.
The Foreign Ministry repeated the trope being propagated in the pro-Erdogan Turkish media that the violence had erupted because of the inability of US authorities to take sufficient precautions at every stage of the official program.
The images show one of Erdogan s guards leaning into his Mercedes Benz after it pulls into the residence driveway. The guard then appears to signal fellow members of the security detail and pro-Erdogan picketers to descend on the protesters, who were chanting Baby killer Erdogan and Long live the YPG. A gray-faced Erdogan is then seen emerging from the car.
Read More: http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2017/05/us-lawmakers-call-action-erdogan-guards-violence.html
Republican U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger and Illinois Democrats praised former FBI chief Robert Mueller being named special counsel to oversee the federal probe into potential coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia to influence the 2016 presidential election. Early Wednesday, Kinzinger was alone among Illinois Republicans in Congress in being open to a special prosecutor.
“Bob Mueller is a well-respected and trusted veteran of the FBI. The American people deserve answers, transparency, and most importantly, the truth,” Kinzinger said in a statement. “This special counsel appointment is a step in the right direction on getting answers on the many questions we have with Russian meddling in our election and our democracy.”
Kinzinger, appearing on morning news shows, said it was time to “look at” an independent commission or special prosecutor after reports that Trump asked then-FBI Director James Comey to halt a probe of then-White House National Security Adviser Michael Flynn. The comment marked a change of heart for the fourth-term lawmaker from Channahon, who in mid-February said an independent commission to probe possible Trump campaign ties to Russia was “overkill.” He said then the Senate Intelligence Committee should examine the matter.
Kinzinger is a pilot with the Air National Guard and a military hawk who has been critical of Trump’s overtures to Russia. He represents exurban parts of the Chicago area that make up the 16th Congressional District, which favored Trump in November. Meanwhile, Illinois Democrats had joined the national chorus in calling for a special prosecutor and praised the move Wednesday.
“Now Congress and the American people will have the opportunity to receive detailed information on the facts of what took place during last year’s election cycle,” U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush of Chicago said in a statement. “After the firing of the former FBI Director James Comey, there was an outcry from myself, the Democratic Illinois delegation and many more calling for a special counsel.”
Flynn briefly served the Trump White House before he was forced to resign after failing to disclose contacts with Russia’s ambassador to the U.S. before Trump took office. Trump fired Comey last week. Earlier Wednesday, Republican U.S. Rep. Peter Roskam said in a statement that Comey should testify before Congress and turn over the memo that reportedly describes his meeting with Trump in which the president reportedly told the FBI chief to halt the bureau’s Flynn probe.
“We need to see these documents as soon as possible and former Director Comey needs to testify before Congress as soon as possible,” said Roskam of Wheaton. “We must get to the bottom of this no matter where it leads.”
After Mueller was appointed, he called it a “welcome development.”
“Former FBI Director Mueller is a man of the utmost integrity. I have complete confidence in his ability to conduct a thorough investigation, wherever the facts may lead,” Roskam said in a statement. Roskam has faced increasing pressure from Democrats in his district over health care and Trump, and on Wednesday two of his potential 2018 opponents released statements asking him to push for an independent commission to examine the Russian controversies swirling around the White House. Republican U.S. Rep. Randy Hultgren of Plano said before Mueller was appointed: “I am following the situation closely. I continue to support the independent investigative work of the congressional committees in their ongoing efforts to establish the relevant facts involved here.”
Kinzinger also was asked on CNN about news reports saying Putin had denied that Trump shared intelligence. Putin has said he would give Congress more information about Trump’s conversation with the visiting Russians.
“I don’t talk to murderous dictators like Vladimir Putin,” Kinzinger replied.
He also called comparisons between the Trump administration controversies and the Watergate scandal that led Richard Nixon to resign “kind of hyperbole.”
“Every new story that comes out about Donald Trump, some on the left make this an 11 on a 10 scale and you hit max freakout immediately,” Kinzinger said on CNN. “And some on the right are unwilling to accept that there could be anything at all going on. All we need is answers.”
- ^ Adam Kinzinger (www.chicagotribune.com)
- ^ Democratic Party (www.chicagotribune.com)
- ^ FBI (www.chicagotribune.com)
- ^ Robert Mueller (www.chicagotribune.com)
- ^ Donald Trump (www.chicagotribune.com)
- ^ Republican Party (www.chicagotribune.com)
- ^ U.S. Congress (www.chicagotribune.com)
- ^ James Comey (www.chicagotribune.com)
- ^ Michael Flynn (www.chicagotribune.com)
- ^ Bobby Rush (www.chicagotribune.com)
- ^ Peter Roskam (www.chicagotribune.com)
- ^ Randy Hultgren (www.chicagotribune.com)
- ^ Vladimir Putin (www.chicagotribune.com)
Wisconsin GOP lawmaker: Donald Trump should share transcript of call on which he reportedly leaked classified info
A Republican U.S. congressman from Green Bay says the White House should give congressional committees the transcript of a meeting in which President Donald Trump reportedly leaked highly classified information to Russian officials. As of Tuesday morning, there was no comment on the matter from U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Oshkosh, who chairs the Senate Homeland Security Committee.
The Washington Post reported Monday afternoon that Trump had shared classified information with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. The Post’s sources told the newspaper the disclosures “jeopardized a critical source of intelligence on the Islamic State.”
White House officials initially denied the report. But Trump appeared to acknowledge it in a pair of tweets early Tuesday.
“As President I wanted to share with Russia (at an openly scheduled W.H. meeting) which I have the absolute right to do … facts pertaining to terrorism and airline flight safety. Humanitarian reasons, plus I want Russia to greatly step up their fight against ISIS & terrorism,” Trump said.
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Gallagher wrote that “while (the president) possesses the authority to disclose classified, even top secret, information, there s a separate question of whether he should.”
“For the purpose of transparency, the White House should share a transcript of the meeting with the House and Senate intelligence committees,” Gallagher wrote. Gallagher is a first-year congressman but has a deep resume in foreign relations and intelligence issues. He s a U.S. Marine Corps veteran of the Iraq War, during which time he worked as a counterintelligence officer, and he went on to work in the U.S. intelligence community, including for the National Counterterrorism Center.
Gallagher said last week that he was concerned by the timing of Trump’s firing of FBI Director James Comey, who had overseen an investigation into Russian interference in last year’s U.S. election. The scope of that investigation included whether Trump’s campaign was linked to the Russian meddling.