We all saw Mike Pence travel to Turkey last week in a failed attempt at convincing President Erdogan to stop murdering the U.S.-allied Kurds. We all saw that effort fail in humiliating fashion. Now it turns out Pence’s trip to Turkey wasn’t just ill-fated and inept; it may have had a criminal component.
Days ago, the Feds at the SDNY criminally indicted Turkish bank Halkbank, on charges of laundering millions of dollars in an effort at working around U.S. sanctions against Iran. This case has found its way to court already, and – incredibly – the back and forth with the judge involves Mike Pence’s trip to Turkey.
Respected reporter Adam Klasfeld of Courthouse News says that Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Lockard told the judge that when Mike Pence and Mike Pompeo visited Turkey last week, Erdogan tried to convince them to drop the case against Halkbank. This obviously didn’t work, as the case is still proceeding in court. But what made Erdogan think that he might have been able to get Pence to go along with this? After all, you don’t make a corrupt pitch to someone you think is clean.
This is all complicated by two factors. First, the SDNY case against Halkbank involves convicted Turkish criminal Reza Zarrab, who was previously represented by attorney Rudy Giuliani – who is knee deep in every Trump scandal. Second, Mike Pence himself is knee deep in the Ukraine scandal, and as more details emerge, it’s starting to look like the Ukraine scandal and the Turkey-Syria scandal are the same scandal. What does Erdogan know about Pence that we don’t? Mike Pence has some explaining to do about his trip to Turkey last week.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report