Senate Dems ask Trump Organization for information on dealings with Turkey

Senate Dems ask Trump Organization for information on dealings with Turkey
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Four Senate Democrats on Tuesday asked the Trump Organization for information on its business dealings with Turkey as President TrumpDonald John TrumpThis week: House kicks off public phase of impeachment inquiry Impeachment week: Trump probe hits crucial point Judd Gregg: The big, big and bigger problem MORE’s decision to withdraw U.S. troops from northeastern Syria faces ongoing, bipartisan scrutiny on Capitol Hill.

Sens. Richard Blumenthal (Conn.), Tammy DuckworthLadda (Tammy) Tammy DuckworthSenate Democrat introduces bill to protect military families from deportation Nuclear command nominee sidesteps questions on arms control treaties Senate Dems ask Trump Organization for information on dealings with Turkey MORE (Ill.), Tom UdallThomas (Tom) Stewart UdallOvernight Energy: EPA watchdog slams agency chief after deputy fails to cooperate in probe | Justices wrestle with reach of Clean Water Act | Bipartisan Senate climate caucus grows Hillicon Valley: Twitter to refuse all political ads | Trump camp blasts 'very dumb' decision | Ocasio-Cortez hails move | Zuckerberg doubles down on Facebook's ad policies | GOP senator blocks sweeping election reform bill GOP senator blocks sweeping election reform bill MORE (N.M.) and Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenJuan Williams: Honesty, homophobia and Mayor Pete Trump DACA fight hits Supreme Court Democrats on edge as Iowa points to chaotic race MORE (Mass.), a 2020 presidential candidate, wrote a letter to Trump Organization executive vice president Jill A. Martin asking her to provide information about two Trump Towers in Istanbul and any connection it may have to the troop withdrawal or other aspects of the relationship between Washington and Ankara.

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The senators underscored a 2015 interview in which then-candidate Trump said he had a “little conflict of interest because I have a major, major building in Istanbul,” noting the president continues to collect revenue from the towers in the form of royalties.

“We agree with the President in his assertion that the Trump Organization’s dealings in Turkey present a financial conflict of interest for him and are greatly concerned this conflict may be influencing U.S. foreign policy toward the Erdogan government,” they wrote, referring to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

Besides the troop withdrawal, which the senators said “[opened] the door to a Turkish military offensive against Kurdish forces who have been valuable partners of the U.S. in the fight against [ISIS],” the Democrats also cited concerns over the administration’s efforts to push for the extradition of an Erdoğan living in the U.S. back to Turkey, forego criminal prosecution of individuals and banks believed to have violated sanctions on Iran and Turkey’s purchases of Russian military equipment over Washington’s objections. 

The senators asked Martin to provide the income the Trump Organization earned from its business dealings in Turkey from 2017 to this year, as well as if it ever sought approval from Ankara to get a licensing agreement for the two towers or if it had communicated with U.S. or Turkish government officials regarding “any matter” in the U.S.-Turkish relationship. Martin is requested to provide answers to the questions by Nov. 12. 

The letter comes before a scheduled visit by Erdoğan to the White House next month, a meeting that lawmakers have said should be canceled over Turkey’s offensive in Syria.

“[B]ecause President Erdogan is scheduled to meet with President Trump in Washington, D.C. next month, it is important for Congress to be aware of the President’s financial interests that could influence the formation of U.S. policy during those discussions,” the lawmakers wrote. 

Bipartisan pushback to Trump’s decision to withdraw troops from northeastern Syria, combined with the House’s impeachment investigation over the president’s dealings with Ukraine, have dominated national headlines for weeks, with critics saying the retreat lifted the chief deterrent to the offensive against U.S.-aligned Kurdish groups.

Trump has pushed back on the criticism, saying he campaigned on ending “endless wars” and that the Kurds are “no angels,” a remark that fueled further disapproval.