The Southern District of New York has yet another blow for President Trump.
On Tuesday, the Manhattan branch of the U.S. attorney's office charged the Turkish state-run bank known as Halkbank with six counts of fraud, money laundering, and sanctions offenses. The move comes after Turkey spent years trying to get the U.S. to drop the case in question, and after Trump himself tried to get the Justice Department to help Turkey out with that goal.
Halkbank's case began in 2012 when it allegedly began trying to "undermine" U.S. sanctions on Iran by "illegally giving Iran access to billions of dollars' worth of funds," a SDNY press release reads. Bloomberg reported last week that Trump in 2017 pressed then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to get the DOJ to drop a case against Reza Zarrab, an Iranian-Turkish gold trader who had been previously charged in what the SDNY calls the Halkbank "scheme." Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-N.C.) tried to tell Turkey's minister of defense that Trump still opposed the Halkbank case in August, though it turned out he was on a call with two Russian pranksters and not the minister, Politico reported.
In other negative news for Graham, or at least his ego, he confirmed in a tweet that he was listening in on a Monday phone call between Trump and Erdogan in which Trump "received a commitment" to stay out of Kurdish-held Syria. Erdogan didn't know Graham was on the phone, and reportedly complained about him during it, people brief on the call told The Washington Post's Josh Dawsey. Kathryn Krawczyk