Pro-Trump Republican officials have a collective reputation for a lot of traits but raw intellect is certainly not one of them. So it should come as little surprise then that obsequious MAGA toadie Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) was tricked by a prank caller into believing he was speaking with Turkey’s Minister of Defense. He was actually on the phone with Russian hoaxers.
Politico reports that Graham received the call in August. An individual on the other end of the line claimed to be Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar but was actually a persona created by two Russian men with alleged connections to the Kremlin. For some reason, the Republican senator took their claim at face value.
“Thank you so much for calling me, Mr. Minister. I want to make this a win-win, if we can,” Graham said to the pranksters, who have been responsible for similar phone calls to American politicians in the past.
During the conversation, Graham told the Turkish imposters that he believed that the Kurdish people are a “threat” to Turkey, a message which flies directly in the face of the self-righteous posturing he has been doing in recent days over the brutal and unjust Turkish military campaign against the Kurds and other ethnic minorities in Northern Syria.
“Your YPG Kurdish problem is a big problem,” Graham said, referring to the People’s Protection Units, a Kurdish militant group which has been battling ISIS in the region with U.S. backing but which Turkey labels a terrorist organization.
“I told President Trump that Obama made a huge mistake in relying on the YPG Kurds. Everything I worried about has come true, and now we have to make sure Turkey is protected from this threat in Syria. I’m sympathetic to the YPG problem, and so is the president, quite frankly,” the senator went on.
Very sad to see great ally – the Kurds – being assaulted by Turkish-Erdogan military using American-designed equipment.
Expect Congress to act soon against Turkey’s invasion & aggressively push back. Hope Trump Administration will join this effort.https://t.co/IKfuE35ddG
— Lindsey Graham (@LindseyGrahamSC) October 10, 2019
Much of the conversation centered around efforts by Graham to convince Turkey to support the F-35 aircraft and reject a specific Russian anti-aircraft weapon system and yet at no point in the call does Graham seem to realize that the man he’s talking to has a thick Russian accent rather than a Turkish one. Listen here.
Graham fell for a second call from the hoaxers not soon after the first and divulged during this one that he had spoken to Trump about the content of the previous call. In other words, Graham relayed a prank phone call conversation to the President of the United States under the impression that it had actual diplomatic value.
During the second call, the men discussed the case of Reza Zarrab, an Iranian-Turkish individual who is a client of Rudy Giuliani. Zarrab and his associates have been accused of laundering money for the Iranian regime in violation of U.S. sanctions. He’s also accused of bribing Turkish government officials.
Bloomberg revealed this week that when he was Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson was asked by Trump to get the DOJ the drop the case in what appears to be a stunning and flagrant act of corruption. Graham’s discussion during the phone call raises questions about how mired he is in the entire sordid affair.
When Politico reached out to Graham’s office about the hoax, his spokesman Kevin Bishop confirmed the veracity of the story.
“We have been successful in stopping many efforts to prank Senator Graham and the office, but this one slipped through the cracks. They got him,” conceded Bishop.
The fact that a U.S. senator could be so easily duped by agents of a foreign adversary is as disturbing as it is amusing. Graham is apparently not only a sycophant but a fool.
Rob Haffey is a writer, filmmaker, and winner of the ScreenCraft Writing Fellowship. He is a graduate of Drexel University.