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White House demanded Lindsey Graham stop a bill recognizing the Armenian genocide

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Senator Lindsey Graham speaking with attendees at the 2015 Iowa Growth & Opportunity Party at the Varied Industries Building at the Iowa State Fairgrounds in Des Moines, Iowa. (Gage Skidmore)

President Donald Trump welcomed Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to the White House where he trashed the Kurdish people, showed a propaganda film attacking the Kurds and denied the Armenian genocide.

There was a resolution that would recognize what happened to the Armenian people an outright genocide, a measure that would have angered Erdoğan.

Between 1914 and 1923, the Ottoman Empire systematically exterminated and expelled approximately 1.5 million Armenians within their borders. There were 2 million Armenians in the empire before 1914. By the end of the mass attack, there were just 400,000 left. Calling them out on it, however, has become a political issue.

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According to Axios, what wasn’t previously reported was that Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) was furious with Erdoğan during the meeting. But when he left, the White House told him he must block the bill recognizing the genocide.

“After the meeting, we kind of huddled up and talked about what happened,” he said. A White House official told Graham Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) intended to bring up the resolution and they told him, “please object.”

Graham confirmed the case to Axios in an interview on Sunday. The House of Representatives has already passed the measure.

“I said sure,” he said. “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 if possible.”

Graham said he wouldn’t object next time the bill is brought up. He didn’t have to, the White House had Sen. David Perdue (R-GA) do it instead.

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“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,” said a spokesperson for the senator.

Read the full Axios report.


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