Intel: Key Democrat presses Pompeo on Trump’s alleged interference in Turkish bank probe

al-monitor In this photograph taken on December 10, 2019, pedestrians pass in front of state run Halkbank on Istiklal Avenue in Istanbul. Photo by OZAN KOSE/AFP via Getty Images.
Bryant Harris

Bryant Harris

@brykharris_ALM

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Trump

Jun 23, 2020

The top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee sent a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo today grilling him on a series of allegations raised in former national security adviser John Bolton’s new book, including the allegation that President Donald Trump sought to end the Justice Department’s charges against Turkey’s state-run Halkbank.

“Mr. Bolton also recounts [President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s] efforts to influence US law enforcement actions against a Turkish firm accused of the largest violation of Iran sanctions in US history, which President Trump reportedly said he would take care of,” wrote Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J.

Menendez goes on to quiz Pompeo about his knowledge of the Halkbank affair, as well as several other allegations Bolton raised in his book, and asks the secretary if he took any steps to push back against Trump.

Why it matters: Bolton claimed that Erdogan, who allegedly used the bank for improper personal dealings, had frequently asked Trump to drop the case against Halkbank official Mehmet Atilla. The former national security adviser said Trump had asked him to call former Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker to get him to drop the case. Bolton says he never followed up on the request.

What’s next: Menendez has called on Bolton to respond to his question by July 1 and publicly testify before Congress. Senate Finance Committee top Democrat Ron Wyden of Oregon has also noted that he will ask Bolton for more information regarding the Halkbank affair.

Know more: Cengiz Candar takes a deep dive on all the allegations regarding Trump and Turkey in Bolton’s new book.