The news this week has been dominated by scandal after scandal involving the Trump administration, from a memo by recently fired FBI Director James Comey revealing that the president had asked him to dismiss his investigation into his former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, to the revelation that Flynn told the Trump transition team he was under federal investigation for secretly working as a foreign agent for Turkey during the Trump campaign two whole weeks before he was hired as national security adviser, granting him unfettered access to our nation’s intelligence secrets. The latter bombshell suggests that both Vice President Mike Pence, who led the Trump transition team, and President Trump himself may have lied to the public about their knowledge of the probe into Flynn.
But speaking of Turkey, the barrage of Trump news managed to overshadow a very disturbing story: that late Tuesday, the day President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey visited with President Trump at the White House, his security detail beat up a number of protesters outside the Turkish ambassador’s residence on Embassy Row in Washington, D.C. The outbreak of violence was captured on video, and The New York Times quoted police characterizing it as a “brutal attack” that left 11 people injured, including a police officer. Two Secret Service agents were also attacked in the brawl.
“The president of Turkey was visiting America, and it turns out he brought his laws with him,” said Trevor Noah during Thursday night’s edition of The Daily Show.
Noah noted how many of the protesters attacked were American. Despite the melee, President Trump—who has spoken fondly of the authoritarian Erdogan in the past, and has significant business interests in Turkey, including the Trump Towers Istanbul—has been curiously silent.
“Sweet Jesus. Do you understand how insane this is?” exclaimed Noah. “A foreign leader brought his goons into America to turn a peaceful protest into a surprise Black Friday—except it’s worse than that because you don’t get to leave with a TV. I mean, that is one of the scariest things I’ve seen.”
“Especially for me, I’m not gonna lie,” Noah, who comes from South Africa, added. “Because in America I’m like, ‘I’m safe. I can talk shit about anybody.’ Now foreign leaders can come in and punish you?”
If that weren’t enough, a video that emerged Thursday morning that, according to The Atlantic, showed that Erdogan was aware of the violent attack while seated in his car outside the Turkish ambassador’s residence: “In the beginning of the footage, one of Erdogan’s bodyguards is seen speaking to the president, who remains inside his black Mercedes Benz. About 13 seconds into the footage, the bodyguard taps on the shoulder of another member of Erdogan’s security detail just moments before the fighting commences. At the 1:13 mark, Erdogan can be seen stepping out of the vehicle. After briefly watching the altercation, he then enters the building.” It is not known if Erdogan ordered the attack.
“In any other news cycle, this would be the story we’d all be talking about: a foreign president’s security detail beating up American citizens exercising their First Amendment protest rights. This is like watching a stranger come into your house and just start beating up your kids,” said Noah.
He then added; “The story of Erdogan’s people beating up protesters in D.C. is particularly disconcerting because now it feels like there’s a leader in the White House who appreciates that level of force.”