Erdogan watched his bodyguards beat up protesters in Washington
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, whose name Donald Trump doesn’t know how to pronounce, met with POTUS in Washington on Tuesday, presumably to swap stories about their mutual friend Michael Flynn. After meetings and a joint press statement, Erdogan rode to the Turkish ambassador’s residence, where anti-Erdogan demonstrators were protesting, until a violent attack by Turkish security forces broke everything up. Video published Thursday appears to show Erdogan calmly watching the whole thing go down.
Here’s video of the brawl. On a scale of 1 to Worldstar, it’s around a 6. (Anything above 3 violates the first amendment.)
Eleven people were injured, including one police officer, in what law enforcement called a “brutal attack.” While Trump has stayed mum on the matter, Sen. Dianne Feinstein and Sen. John McCain sent a letter to Erdogan on Thursday that describes the “violent response of your security detail” as a “blatant violation” of constitutional freedoms. Feinstein and McCain urged Erdogan to hold his staff accountable.
There are several reasons that’s probably not going to happen, but the most persuasive is video that shows Erdogan pulling up outside the Turkish embassy in a Mercedes Benz sedan, moments before the brawl occurred. While protesters chant across the street, Erdogan says something from inside the car to a suited bodyguard standing outside his door. That man passes a message to another security officer, who nods his head and jogs away. Seconds later, a group of men run across the street and start punching and kicking protesters.
As sirens blare, Erdogan slowly exits the vehicle and watches the action, which he may or may not have ordered. Eventually Erdogan turns away and slowly walks into the embassy.
“We are communicating our concern to the Turkish government in the strongest possible terms,” said Heather Nauert, a State Department spokeswoman. The Secret Service said it plans to work with the police and the State Department “to aggressively pursue accountability for those involved in yesterday’s protests.”
UPDATE, 9:00 p.m.: NBC reports that Turkish Ambassador Serdar Kilic met with U.S. Under Secretary of State Thomas Shannon on Wednesday, with no concrete conclusion. Turkey hasn’t confirmed or denied that Erdogan’s own security detail attacked the protesters, but it is offering a classic dictatorial excuse, that the peaceful demonstrators were affiliated with “terrorists.”