President Trump and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had a cordial meeting on Wednesday, with Trump going out of his way to say he's a "big fan" of Erdogan and the two are "very good friends." But there was no evident progress on the big issues dividing the NATO allies: Turkey's assault on America's Kurdish allies in Syria and its purchase of Russian S-400 missile defense systems, and America's refusal to extradite a Muslim cleric Erdogan accuses of fomenting revolt.
Trump invited five Republican senators critical of Turkey to his Oval Office meeting with Erdogan, and things "took a dark turn when Erdogan pulled out his iPad and made the group watch a propaganda video that depicted Kurds as terrorists," Axios reports, citing three people familiar with the meeting. "Erdogan apparently thought he could sway these senators by forcing them to watch a clunky propaganda film. The senators in the meeting took turns pushing back on Erdogan, while Trump sat back and watched, intervening occasionally to play traffic cop."
All of the GOP senators were upset about the S-400, but Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) "got into a heated back-and-forth" with Erdogan over the Syrian Kurds, Axios reports. After Erdogan's film finished, Graham asked him: "Well, do you want me to go get the Kurds to make one about what you've done?" Graham told Axios late Wednesday that he had informed Erdogan "that 10,000 SDF fighters, mostly Kurds, suffered, died, or injured in the fight against ISIS, and America will not forget that and will not abandon them."
Graham also made a wry comment when Trump told Erdogan to pick a "friendly reporter" at their joint press conference.
After President Trump urges Erdogan to call on “a friendly reporter from Turkey”, Lindsey Graham turns to me and says, “There aren’t any others left.” pic.twitter.com/VgEpYyr2PR
— Jonathan Karl (@jonkarl) November 13, 2019