Defending President Trump’s decision to congratulate Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan following Sunday’s controversial referendum win, a White House spokeswoman said Tuesday “the president’s number one job is to keep Americans safe.”
“And if he needs to work with countries like Turkey and others to do that, I think that’s his priority and that’s what his focus is,” deputy press secretary Sarah Sanders told reporters aboard Air Force One en route to Wisconsin.
By a narrow margin, Turks voted to move from a parliamentary to an executive presidential system, granting sweeping new powers to an Islamist leader whose crackdown on dissent has drawn widespread criticism.
Sanders confirmed that Trump had congratulated Erdogan in a phone call Monday but when asked whether this amounted to acceptance of the referendum result, she said “no,” adding that the administration is encouraging an international observer mission to “take a close look at those election results.”
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