Sen. Lindsey Graham emerged from a meeting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and hours later blocked a resolution recognizing the Armenian genocide. But Graham wants it known that he was totes hard on Erdoğan in the meeting.
The House of Representatives had already passed a resolution recognizing the early 20th century genocide, in which the Ottoman Empire killed 1.5 million Armenians. That was a strongly bipartisan vote, passing 405 to 11. But thanks to Graham, who claims he blocked it “not because of the past but because of the future,” it won’t get a Senate vote.
Axios reports that, earlier in the day, “Erdoğan got into a heated back-and-forth with Graham over Turkey’s recent invasion of Syria, according to four sources familiar with the meeting.” Graham confirmed that to Axios (and let’s be real, one of those sources may well have been someone working to burnish Graham’s image). But apparently Graham came out of that exchange convinced that the way to prevent Turkey from a Kurdish genocide is to protect the country from consequences for a century-old genocide committed not by the Republic of Turkey but by its predecessor, the Ottoman Empire.
Graham also implicitly criticized Erdoğan when, after Donald Trump exhorted him to call on “a friendly reporter from Turkey” during their press conference, Graham told ABC’s Jonathan Karl, “There aren’t any others left.” In other words, Graham spent the day energetically making sure reporters knew that he was no friend of Erdoğan and even legitimately challenging Erdoğan on his current foreign policy. And then he turned around and did Erdoğan a big favor in the Senate at the expense of putting the U.S. on record against a genocide.