Graham blocked Armenian genocide resolution upon request from White House

Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamHouse Judiciary Committee to hold hearing on police brutality next week McCabe, Rosenstein spar over Russia probe Rosenstein takes fire from Republicans in heated testimony MORE (R-S.C.) blocked a Senate resolution that would have officially recognized the Armenian genocide following a request from White House officials, he told Axios on Sunday.

Graham said he blocked a resolution previously passed by the House because Turkey's president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, was in town to meet with President TrumpDonald John TrumpFormer employees critique EPA under Trump in new report Fired State Department watchdog says Pompeo aide attempted to 'bully' him over investigations Virginia senator calls for Barr to resign over order to clear protests MORE at the time. Turkey vehemently opposes recognition of the genocide, which was committed by the Ottoman Empire between 1915 and 1917.


"After the meeting, we kind of huddled up and talked about what happened," Graham told Axios on Saturday, referring to senior White House officials, who he said asked him to "please object" to the Senate resolution.

"I said sure," Graham told Axios, adding, "The only reason I did it is because he [Erdoğan] was still in town."

"That would've been poor timing. I'm trying to salvage the relationship [between the U.S. and Turkey] if possible," he continued.

U.S.-Turkey relations have been tested by Turkey's military invasion of Kurdish-held territories in northern Syria, which was widely condemned by lawmakers in both parties in the U.S.

"I did think with the president of Turkey in town that was probably more than the market would bear," the senator told Axios, adding, "I'm not going to object next time."

Another resolution to recognize the genocide was blocked last week. A spokesperson for Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.) told Axios that Perdue had objected to the second attempt to pass the resolution due to his concern for U.S.-Turkey relations.

"Senator Perdue objected due to concerns that passage of the resolution would jeopardize the sensitive negotiations going on in the region with Turkey and other allies," the spokesperson said.

The measure previously passed the House on a 405-11 vote, with three lawmakers voting present.

"Genocides, whenever and wherever they occur, cannot be ignored, whether they took place in the 20th century by the Ottoman Turks or mid-20th century by the Third Reich and in Darfur," said Rep. Gus Bilirakis (R-Fla.), one of the lawmakers leading the efforts to pass the measure said last month.