A new investigation by the New York Times revealed that U.S. President Donald Trump and senior administration officials moved frequently to quash an investigation into Turkey’s state-run Halkbank after the president was repeatedly lobbied by his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
There have been many attempts to understand why and how the Erdoğan government and the Trump administration got on so well for several years. The case against Halkbank, which is accused of laundering up to $20 billion on behalf of Iranian entities to help them break U.S.-imposed sanctions, bank fraud charges, and concealing the nature of these illicit transactions from U.S. officials, has been one of the hot topics in the “bromance” between the two leaders.
So, what have we learned from the NYT investigation?
1. Trump tried, tried, and tried to quash the case against Halkbank
The NYT mentions several conversations between Trump and Erdoğan in which the Turkish president urged Trump to settle the Halkbank case and Trump responded tactfully, even though he supported a hard line on Iran.
John Bolton, Trump’s former national security adviser, details a time when Erdoğan provided Trump with a memo maintaining the innocence of Halkbank. “Well, it looks convincing to me,” Trump said after quickly skimming through the text, according to Bolton.
Later, the Justice Department told federal prosecutors in New York overseeing the case that senior officials including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Secretary of Treasury Steven Mnuchin, as well as the Justice Department itself, would be getting involved in the case.