In a wide-ranging Oval Office interview with Reuters, Trump complained about interest rate hikes by the Federal Reserve and suggested he was having second thoughts about Jerome Powell, his choice for Fed chair. He also said he “most likely” will have a second meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and indicated he would consider lifting U.S. sanctions on Russia if Moscow took some actions in return.
Trump said he thought he had a deal with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan when he helped persuade Israel to free a detained Turkish citizen. He had thought Erdogan would then release pastor Andrew Brunson, who denies Turkey’s allegations that he was involved in a plot against Erdogan two years ago.
“I think it’s very sad what Turkey is doing. I think they’re making a terrible mistake. There will be no concessions,” he said.
Turkey has demanded that the United States hand over Fethullah Gulen, a Turkish cleric in the United States suspected in the coup plot against Erdogan, but the United States has balked at this.
Trump has imposed tariffs on imports of Turkish steel and aluminum in response to Erdogan’s refusal to free Brunson, raising concerns of economic damage in Europe and in emerging market economies.
“I’m not concerned at all. I’m not concerned. This is the proper thing to do,” he said, when asked about the potential damage to other economies.
Trump said Erdogan had wanted the Turkish citizen returned from Israel.
Trump and Erdogan met in Brussels for a NATO summit in mid-July where they discussed Brunson’s case and what could be the way forward to release the pastor, a senior White House official said earlier.
Turkey had sought U.S. help to persuade the Israelis to release a Turkish woman who was being held in Israel, the senior official said. In exchange Turkey would release Brunson and other Americans being held in Turkey.
Trump said he kept his side of the bargain.
“I got that person out for him. I expect him to let this very innocent and wonderful man and great father and great Christian out of Turkey,” Trump said.
The dispute threatens to intensify a split between the United States and Turkey, a key NATO ally that plans to buy Russian missiles.
Israel, which confirmed that Trump had requested Ebru Ozkan’s release, deported her on July 15. Ankara has denied ever agreeing to free Brunson in return.
Trump added: “I like Turkey. I like the people of Turkey very much. Until now I had a very good relationship as you know with the president. I got along with him great. I had a very good relationship. But it can’t be a one-way street. It’s no longer a one-way street for the United States.”