Turkey’s president is visiting the White House and it’s not hard to imagine that somewhere in an alternate universe, Turkey and not Ukraine is at the center of the foreign-policy scandal gripping Washington. Trump’s relationship with Recep Tayyip Erdogan has plenty of the same elements that have made his Ukraine diplomacy the subject of an impeachment inquiry: allegations of political interference in criminal cases and a former New York mayor running back-channel diplomacy with the help of some personal clients. So what’s Trump been up to in Turkey and how does it parallel the scandal over Ukraine?
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Golden boy: At the heart of the controversy over Trump’s relationship with President Erdogan is a criminal case. Reza Zarrab, a Turkish-Iranian gold trader, was charged in 2016 with helping Iran violate U.S. economic sanctions in New York by then-U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara. The Turkish bank implicated in Zarrab’s sanctions-busting scheme, Halkbank, was under investigation by New York prosecutors for similar Iran sanctions offenses for years until the Southern District of New York finally indicted the bank in October.