- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 13, 2019

A bipartisan group of congressmen sought to ensure the safety of protesters planning to rally against Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday in D.C.

Rep. Dan Crenshaw, Texas Republican, led separate letters sent to the U.S. State Department and D.C. Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) on the eve of President Trump hosting Mr. Erdogan at the White House.

Co-signed by 40 colleagues spanning both sides of the aisle, each of the letters expressed similar concerns about Mr. Erdogan visiting D.C. on account of violent clashes that erupted during his last time in town.

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Several protesters opposed to Mr. Erdogan were assaulted in 2017 while demonstrating outside the Turkish ambassador’s residence in D.C. while the country’s leader was inside. The Department of Justice subsequently brought criminal charges against 19 individuals in connection with the brawl, including several Mr. Erdogan has identified as his bodyguards, although prosecutors ultimately dismissed the charges against most of those indicted.

“As a veteran, I know the sacrifices made by our military to protect America and its values abroad,” Mr. Crenshaw said in a statement. “One of those core values is freedom of speech and assembly. It should be respected by all Americans, but especially by any visiting foreign leader. While Erdogan has rejected these freedoms in Turkey, he and his security detail must abide by them here. His ability to act as an authoritarian ruler ends when he sets foot on American soil.”

Among the prominent members of Congress who co-signed the letters to the State Department and MPD are Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, the chair of the House Republican caucus, and Rep. Adam Schiff, California Democrat and chair of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.

The Diplomatic Security Service does not go into details about specific security plans, a spokesperson for the State Department told The Washington Times.

MPD, along with our federal partners, have coordinated for the Turkish President’s planned trip and we plan to take every measure possible to ensure we do not experience conflicts that were seen during his last visit to Washington, D.C.,” the MPD told The Times in a statement.

The U.S. and Turkish presidents are expected to meet at the White House throughout Wednesday afternoon, according to Mr. Trump’s public schedule. Protests are planned to occur nearby.

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