Friday, May 27, 2022

Oz’s ties with Turkey come under attack in Pennsylvania Senate race

Harrisburg, Pa. ( Associated Press) — Mehmet Oz’s rival in Pennsylvania’s competitive Republican primary for the U.S. Senate is increasing his attacks on the celebrity heart surgeon’s connections to his parents’ native country of Turkey, raising it as a potential national security issue. Huh.

Oz, better known as TV’s Dr. Oz, has dismissed any suggestion that he is a threat to national security and plans to launch a “massive attack” on a rival, former hedge fund CEO David McCormick. charged up. If elected, Oz would be the country’s first Muslim senator, although Oz has not campaigned on that milestone.

Oz, who was born in the United States, holds Turkish citizenship, served in the Turkish military and voted in the 2018 election, but says he will renounce his dual citizenship in Turkey if elected .

Trump’s former Secretary of State and CIA director, Mike Pompeo, who backed McCormick in the race, told reporters Friday that Oz has to clarify “the scope and depth of his relationship with the Turkish government.”

Americans should know if Oz is “fit for duty,” Pompeo said.

As director of the CIA, Pompeo worked side-by-side in the Trump administration with Michael Flynn, Trump’s first national security adviser, who investigated the Justice Department because of the lucrative consulting work he and his firm did to the Turkish government. benefited.

Oz also has financial ties with Turkey.

In his financial disclosure report to the Senate, Oz disclosed his assets in Turkey, assets from his late father’s estate that has been tied up in legal proceedings there and an endorsement agreement with Turkish Airlines, which is partly owned by the Turkish government. is owned.

Another rival, Carla Sands, Trump’s former ambassador to Denmark who has inherited a commercial real estate fortune, has suggested that Oz has dual loyalties, calling him a play on Trump’s “America First” governing philosophy. It is called “Turkish First”.

Opposing McCormick’s attacks in March, Oz suggested that his religion was being targeted, accusing McCormick of making “massive attacks”, which “reflect on the abuses that have been made in the past about Catholics and Jews.” Reminds me.”

Oz has said that he served in the Turkish military as a youth to maintain his dual citizenship. He keeps it to this day, he said, so he has the legal power to make health care decisions in Turkey for his mother, who has Alzheimer’s disease.

Oz voted in Turkey’s 2018 election when he was at the consulate in New York for meetings about his humanitarian work on behalf of Syrian refugees in Turkey, his campaign said.

He voted against Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, his campaign said, noting that it is not unusual for Americans with dual citizenship to vote in elections in other countries.

Oz’s campaign said, “Voting in the election is very different from actively engaging in the political work of the Turkish government, which Dr. Oz has never been involved in.”

Senate historians have been unable to find a US senator who maintained dual citizenship.

Trump first attacked McCormick in an hour-long speech at Friday night’s rally, saying he was with a company that “manages money for Communist China.”

Trump did not specifically mention attacks on Oz’s relationship with Turkey, but promoted Oz to the crowd as a “warrior” and a longtime friend, having won a battlefield seat in the general election. is the best chance.

David Loffman, former head of counter-intelligence at the Justice Department’s Department of National Security, said he thinks of national security concerns as individuals and organizations that present terroristic threats, cyber security threats or economic security threats. , or are involved in directed impact operations. In America on behalf of foreign powers.

“I think we need to be careful about classifying any American as a national security risk because they have ties to a foreign country,” Laufman said in an interview.

Edward Ahmed Mitchell, deputy director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said the nonprofit does not comment on specific campaigns.

But in general, he said, the organization has seen attacks on one aspect of a candidate — such as their place of birth — as a stand-in for a more explicitly racist attack, such as their race or religion.

Flynn – Trump’s former national security adviser – was fired earlier in the Trump administration after the White House said he had lied about his Russian contacts during the transition period.

He later admitted in a criminal case brought by special counsel Robert Mueller that his filings with the Justice Department included “false statements and omissions” when he registered as a foreign agent for his Turkish work.

Associated Press writer Eric Tucker in Washington contributed to this report.

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

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