White House refutes Erdogan’s claim that Trump apologized for charges against security guards

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaks during a news conference at Ataturk International Airport in Istanbul, Turkey, on Sept. 8, 2017. Photo by Osman Orsal/Reuters

The White House on Wednesday refuted Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's claim that President Donald Trump apologized to him after the Department of Justice filed charges against members of Erdogan's security detail following a clash outside of the Turkish ambassador's residence this summer.

Erdogan told PBS NewsHour's Judy Woodruff days earlier that Mr. Trump called him and "said that he was sorry."

Trump "told me that he was going to follow up on this issue when we come to the United States within the framework of an official visit," Erdogan said in an interview that aired Tuesday.

But White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders pushed back Wednesday, saying that while the two leaders discussed the incident, there was "no apology" from Trump. Deputy press secretary Lindsay Walters told PBS NewsHour that Erdogan's claim was "not true."

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The confrontation between Erdogan's security detail and protesters followed his May 16 visit to the White House. Violence broke out after demonstrators gathered outside of the Turkish ambassador's residence in Washington, D.C., to protest the arrest of a leader of Turkey's pro-Kurdish party.

A video of the incident showed members of Erdogan's security detail beating up protesters while the Turkish president watched from the residence's driveway. Nine people were injured in the attack.

Last month, a D.C. grand jury indicted 15 Turkish security officials, charging them with conspiracy to commit a crime of violence.

In the PBS NewsHour interview, Erdogan said his personal security guards acted because the police failed to protect him from protesters who were "screaming and shouting."

"The protesters were very close to my car, to my vehicle," Erdogan added.

Erdogan also said he would bring the incident up when he meets with Trump on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly this week.

"I'm going to get together with President Trump on Thursday, and I'm going to talk about these developments in a very extensive fashion," Erdogan said.

Correspondent John Yang contributed reporting.

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