Bolton revelations show Trump will ignore U.S. senate demands on Turkey

A newly released book by former U.S. national defence advisor John Bolton has said that the U.S. President Donald Trump is not ready to follow demands by senators to permanently remove Turkey from the F-35 fighter jet programme, Greek City Times reported.

Trump is still not ready to pull Turkey out of the F-35 project,” Greek City Times said on Thursday.

It added that although Ankara´s role is not very great in the programme, the U.S. has not yet substituted Turkey´s role in the manufacture of F-35 components

The ties between Trump and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, described by Bolton as a “bromance”, is a major factor in the situation, Greek City Times said.

This week U.S. senators demanded that Turkey be fully withdrawn from the F-35 fighter jet programme. They wrote a letter to U.S. Secretary of Defence Mark Esper calling the Pentagon to remove Turkish manufacturers from supplying key parts of the F-35.

“Based on recent revelations, it is clear that the Pentagon is not following its own timeline or the intent of congress in this matter,” the letter by the senators said. “We encourage you to reexamine the present approach and take action to ensure an expedited removal of Turkey from the manufacturing line as required by law.”

The letter came came after Bolton in his new memoir “The Room Where It Happened” wrote that Erdoğan gave Trump a memo saying Turkish state lender Halkbank, under investigation by the office of the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York for violating Iranian sanctions, was innocent.

Halkbank is a Turkish state-owned bank that has been under investigation by U.S. prosecutors since 2018 over allegations it illegally laundered $20 billion worth of Iranian oil revenue. According to Bolton, Trump instructed the bank to be cleared of charges that breached U.S. sanctions against Iran.

“Trump then told Erdoğan he would take care of things, explaining that the [New York] southern district prosecutors were not his people but were Obama people, a problem that would be fixed when they were replaced by his people,” Bolton sad.

According to Democratic Senator Ron Wyden, Bolton’s allegations provided “damning evidence” that “Donald Trump attempted to interfere in a criminal investigation into the largest sanctions violations scheme in U.S. history as a favour” to Erdoğan.

If Bolton’s allegations are proven true by the U.S. prosecutor’s investigation, then it shows Trump is willing to tolerate Turkey breaking sanctions that the U.S. president himself imposed against Iran, Greek City Times added.

Washington stated that it would exclude Turkey from the F-35 programme in July 2019 after Ankara acquired the Russian S-400 air defence systems, which NATO says is not compatible with its defence systems. Consequently, Washington did not deliver the F-35s that Turkey paid for.