President Trump had to umpire a tense exchange between Republican senators and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday, which reportedly began when Erdogan aired a propaganda film against Syria's Kurds. Axios first reported that five Republican senators critical of Turkey's incursion into Syria watched as Erdogan whipped out an iPad and played a video depicting Kurds as terrorists. A source tells CNN the video was "straight propaganda." Per Axios, Sens. Lindsey Graham, Ted Cruz, Joni Ernst, Rick Scott, and Jim Risch "took turns pushing back on Erdogan, while Trump sat back and watched, intervening occasionally to play traffic cop." "Well, do you want me to go get the Kurds to make [a video] about what you've done?" countered Graham, who confirmed the clash.
Graham tells Axios he "forcefully" rejected "the Turkish narrative that they have done more to destroy ISIS" and stated that America "will not abandon" the Kurds. Viewing Turkish attacks on Kurds as "absolutely unacceptable," Cruz says in a statement he "made clear" that the US would refuse to sell F-35 fighter jets to Turkey while it uses Russia's S-400 air defense system, per CNN. The outlet reports the 90-minute meeting served to show Erdogan that Trump has no choice but to apply sanctions against Turkey in response to the purchase. But the goal of the meeting had been to convince Erdogan to purchase a US military equipment, and that didn't happen, per CBS News. "Hopefully, we'll be able to resolve that situation," Trump said at a press conference with Erdogan later Wednesday, per Voice of America. (Read more Turkey stories.)