Trump's 'startling' corruption in Turkey is John Bolton's most damning allegation: columnist
US President Donald Trump and Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan are at odds over the fate of an American pastor detained in Turkey (AFP Photo/Tatyana ZENKOVICH)

On Tuesday, writing for The Washington Post, columnist David Ignatius argued that, "Among the most startling disclosures in John Bolton’s new book is his account of President Trump’s dealings with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. It’s a tale that connects some of Trump’s closest advisers: former national security adviser Michael Flynn, personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani, and senior adviser and son-in-law, Jared Kushner."

The conflict centered on Halkbank, a Turkish banking enterprise under a criminal investigation at the Southern District of New York.

"The Turkey story begins, like much about Trump, with his personal business interests,," wrote Ignatius. "When he launched Trump Towers Istanbul in April 2012, his daughter Ivanka Trump tweeted thanks to Erdogan, the prime minister at the time, for attending. With them was a Turkish businessman named Mehmet Ali Yalcindag, whom Donald Trump described at the opening as a “great friend” of Ivanka. Kushner, her husband, was there, too." Flynn, too, had interests in Turkey, calling for the extradition of an exiled cleric while receiving $500,000 from a Turkish businessman with ties to Erdogan's government.

"Erdogan was obsessed with another U.S. legal issue — an investigation by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York into a Turkish bank called Halkbank and a Turkish-Iranian gold dealer named Reza Zarrab," wrote Ignatius. And, according to Bolton, Trump and Rudy Giuliani directly sought to interfere in those cases on Erdogan's behalf. And two prosecutors at SDNY overseeing the case, Preet Bharara and Geoffrey Berman, have now been fired.

"The Halkbank case continues — Trump’s assurances to the Turkish president notwithstanding," concluded Ignatius.

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