Trump randomly asked Turkey's president at the 2019 G20 summit whether he'd seen the controversial movie 'Midnight Express,' book says

Trump randomly asked Turkey's president at the 2019 G20 summit whether he'd seen the controversial movie 'Midnight Express,' book says
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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (L), US President Donald Trump (C) and Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia Mohammad Bin Salman (R) pose for the family photo on the first day of the G20 summit in Osaka, Japan on June 28, 2019.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, left, President Donald Trump, and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman at the G20 summit in Osaka, Japan, on June 28, 2019. Metin Aktas/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images
  • Trump once asked the Turkish president whether he'd seen the film "Midnight Express," a book says.

  • "That's a dark movie for you guys," Trump told the Turkish delegation of the 1978 film, it adds.

  • Ex-Trump aide Stephanie Grisham describes the conversation in her forthcoming memoir.

  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

At the G20 summit in 2019, President Donald Trump asked Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the foreign leader's aides whether they'd seen the controversial 1978 movie "Midnight Express," according to the former Trump aide Stephanie Grisham's forthcoming memoir.

"That's a dark movie for you guys," Trump told the Turkish delegation after posing the question, according to Grisham's book. The Guardian first reported the account.

Grisham writes "there was little reaction from the delegation" after Trump's "out of the blue" comments. She adds there were "maybe a few polite chuckles, before the conversation moved on, as if the president of the United States hadn't just blurted that out."

The Oscar-winning film, about an American man imprisoned in Turkey after attempting to smuggle hashish out of the country, has been criticized for depicting Turks as vicious and violent and damaging the country's reputation. Both the film's director, Alan Parker, and its writer, Oliver Stone, have said they regret how Turkish characters in the film were portrayed. The film is widely despised in Turkey.

During his time in office, Trump repeatedly expressed his admiration for Erdoğan, who has run an increasingly authoritarian government that imprisons journalists, political opponents, and Americans. Erdoğan also held a referendum in 2017 that dramatically expanded his power.

After the 2020 election, Congress passed economic sanctions on Turkey for purchasing Russian missile-defense systems.

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