July 23, 2019

Ahead of Partisan Meeting at White House, Foreign Relations Committee Democrats Urge Pres. Trump to Work with Both Parties to Sanction Turkey for Purchase of Russian S400 Missile System

WASHINGTON – Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, today led a letter to President Trump from all of the Democrats on the Committee, urging him to impose sanctions on Turkey for its decision to accept delivery of the Russian S400 air defense system, and to engage with Democrats on this critical national security issue.

Despite bipartisan support for sanctions—including from members of the Administration—President Trump has chosen to exclude Democrats from an upcoming discussion of the situation with Senate Republicans.

“We believe that a strong response to Turkish President Erdogan’s acceptance of the Russian S400 air defense system must be delivered because, without decisive action by the United States, our position in NATO and the strength of our sanctions regime on Russia will suffer,” wrote the senators. “United States foreign policy is most effective and durable when done in a bipartisan way.”

In addition to Senator Menendez, the letter was also signed by Senators Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Tom Udall (D-N.M.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) and Cory Booker (D-N.J.).

A copy of the letter can be found here and below:

Dear Mr. President:

As members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, we are writing to express our disappointment that your administration has decided not to engage with Democratic Senators with respect to the mandatory legal requirement that sanctions be imposed on Turkey in response to its purchase of the Russian S400 Air defense system. We understand you are meeting exclusively with Republican Senators to discuss the Administration’s response to this unprecedented development which has raised bipartisan concern.

If you were to engage with Democratic Senators on this issue, you would learn that our members agree with many past and present members of your administration, as well as many Republican Senators. For example, we agree with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo who on July 14th said the following to the Washington Post:

“The law requires that there be sanctions and I’m confident that we will comply with the law and President Trump will comply with the law."

We believe that a strong response to Turkish President Erdogan’s acceptance of the Russian S400 air defense system must be delivered because, without decisive action by the United States, our position in NATO and the strength of our sanctions regime on Russia will suffer. We also hope that Turkey can one day reorient itself to being a bridge between the East and West and return to being a constructive member of NATO that respects human rights and democratic principles.

United States foreign policy is most effective and durable when done in a bipartisan way.  We agree with Secretary Pompeo and many Senate Republicans that sanctions must be imposed on Turkey in accordance with the law.  We expect that you will follow the law and impose sanctions on Turkey without delay.

Sincerely,

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