Trump names Erdoğan among U.S. adversaries to be cautious about

The president of the United States must have 100 percent cognitive capacity to deal with certain world leaders, including Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, U.S. President Donald Trump said in an interview on Thursday.

“We are dealing with people that want to do very bad things to us if they had the chance,” Trump said. “And you have to be sharper than them.”

On July 10, the New York Times cited Trump as saying he had “aced” a cognitive test “very recently,” as the U.S. president boasted of a perfect score and said the test “proved I was all there.” He also suggested his rival in the November election, Joe Biden, take the test to dispel rumours of his cognitive decline.

“We can’t take a chance of it happening,” Trump said. “I can tell you, (Chinese President) Xi Jinping is sharp, (Russian President Vladimir) Putin is sharp, Erdoğan is sharp. You don’t have any non-sharp people that you’re dealing with. We can’t have somebody that’s not 100 percent.”

Erdoğan and Trump have had a close relationship throughout Trump’s first term in office, but the Turkish president has also been cultivating Biden’s camp to not lose access or influence should Trump lose in November, former Pentagon official Michael Rubin wrote on Tuesday. According to a book released recently by Trump’s former national security adviser John Bolton, Erdoğan has had considerable effect on Trump’s policy-making with regards to Turkey.

Tensions have been high between the two countries in recent years, over Turkey’s policy against U.S.-allied Syrian Kurdish forces and its purchase of S-400 missile defence systems from Russia, among other matters.

The U.S. House of Representatives and Senate have both introduced legislation to sanction Turkey over the purchase, which the United States maintains poses security risks for NATO members, but Trump has moved to halt such efforts to date.