Turkey tries to shift blame to US over DC brawl, summons ambassador
Nevermind the videos of Turkish security officers in Washington stomping protesters.
The country's Ministry of Foreign Affairs now says the real problem with last week's shocking brawl outside the Turkish Embassy was U.S. law enforcement's actions.
The government on Monday summoned the U.S. ambassador in Ankara and delivered a "written and verbal protest" over what it called the "aggressive and [unprofessional] actions taken ... by US security personnel" toward the "close protection team" in D.C. last week.
That sound you hear is the gasping of U.S. lawmakers -- already outraged over Turkish bodyguards' violence toward demonstrators in a normally serene Washington neighorhood.
“This is really rich," Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., told Fox News on Monday, in response to the Ministry statement.
Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., tweeted, “Can’t make it up…” in reference to the ambassador summons.
The Turkish government's attempt to shift blame comes after their bodyguards were captured on video hitting and kicking protesters in D.C., as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan looked on from afar.
The ministry is now requesting a "full investigation of this diplomatic incident," citing "lapses of security" during Erdogan's stay in Washington allegedly "caused by the inability of US authorities to take sufficient precautions at every stage of the official program."
But U.S. lawmakers say that's hardly the case.
"D.C. Police intervened when Erdogan’s security thugs attacked Americans peacefully exercising their first amendment rights outside the Turkish Embassy," Lofgren said.
Lofgren referred to video from the scene that showed U.S. officers struggling to protect protesters.
Lofgren added: “The security thugs should not have been released from jail as they were clearly a flight risk. They should be charged with assault and arrested if they ever try to enter the U.S. again.”
Lofgren also criticized President Trump, who is on his first overseas trip as commander-in-chief, for not directly addressing the incident, though his State Department has condemned the violence.
The latest statement from the Turkish government could inflame an already tense situation, as multiple lawmakers have called on the Trump administration to punish Turkey severely.
McCain suggested last week that “we should throw their ambassador the hell out of the United States of America.”
And Sens. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., warned the Turkish government there could be financial consequences if they failed to punish the security officials involved in the incident.
Graham and Leahy, who oversee the U.S. foreign aid budget, sent a letter on May 18 to the Turkish ambassador to the U.S. Serdar Killic warning there could be “potential implications for assistance to Turkey should this matter be given less than the highest attention and consideration it deserves by the Government of Turkey.”
The State Department confirmed on Monday that the Turkish government summoned U.S. Ambassador John Bass to the Foreign Ministry.
“The conduct of Turkish security personnel last week was deeply disturbing,” State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said. “The State Department has raised its concerns about those events at the highest levels.”
Turkey is now claiming the protesters were associated with the PKK.
But D.C. Police Chief Peter Newsham said earlier the violence appeared to be unprovoked. The U.S. Secret Service announced last week it is investigating the brawl, which sent nine people to the hospital.
D.C.'s Metropolitan Police Department also told Fox News on Monday that the investigation “remains active” and is being conducted jointly by the Department of State’s Diplomatic Security Service, U.S. Secret Service, and MPD.
MPD added: “All three law enforcement agencies are actively sharing information and will remain in contact as the investigation proceeds.”
Fox News' Rich Edson contributed to this report.