Wednesday, September 20, 2017

What did Donald Trump do today?

He denied he'd apologized to the president of Turkey.

During President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's visit in May, members of his security detail waded into a peaceful anti-Erdogan protest and started throwing punches. Erdogan himself was present and appeared to direct events. D.C. police intervened, prompting Erdogan to demand an apology. But none was forthcoming: the State Department condemned the security detail's actions, and indictments in D.C. courts followed.

But yesterday, Erdogan said that Trump had indeed apologized in a call last week, saying that Trump had promised to follow up on the issue during an upcoming visit. Today, the White House disputed that, saying that there was no apology. Issues like this are usually matters of diplomatic nuance and semantics, but given Trump's history with Erdogan and other authoritarians, it's hard to know who to believe. Trump often seems genuinely in awe of those who have seized power: he recently praised North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un for maintaining his grip on the regime he inherited from his father, and has offered similar praise for Saddam Hussein, Vladimir Putin, Rodrigo Duterte, Bashar al-Assad, and Muammar Qaddafi, among others. When Erdogan won a highly disputed referendum that granted him sweeping new powers in April, Trump rushed to call with his personal congratulations almost the instant Erdogan's government declared the result.

The strongest evidence that Trump is telling the truth may be that he has virtually never really apologized for anything.

Why would anyone be bothered by this?

  • It shouldn't be this difficult to take the word of the President of the United States over that of a foreign autocrat.