tv Sens. Graham Van Hollen Announce Legislation Imposing Sanctions on Turkey CSPAN October 17, 2019 1:31pm-2:09pm EDT
rally in the american airlines center in dallas. on friday at 6:00 p.m., live on c-span, elizabeth warren holds a town hall in norfolk, virginia. live saturday at 1:00 p.m. eastern, senator bernie's rally at a bernie's back rally in new york city. you can watch c-span any time on cspan.org or on the free c-span radio app. >> flags at the u.s. capitol are flying at half-staff today for maryland congressman elijah cummings who died early this morning in baltimore. he was first elected in congress in 1996, and he served as chair of the congressional black caucus, and congressman cummings shared the house oversight committee and his colleague hogan said that he leaves behind an incredible legacy for serving
the people and the nation. his contributions made our state and country better. elijah cummings was 68 years old. a bipartisan group of senators including lindsey graham and vis van h -- chris van hollen introduced a bill to impose sanctions on the top turkish officials and prohibits the u.s. from selling or transferring military equipment to turkey. >> thank you very much. i'm senator graham from south carolina here with the bipartisan group of united states senators to make a clear statement in uncertain times. what turkey did in syria is unacceptable.
turkey's incursion into syria hurts america's national security and puts at risk the kurdish allies there for us when nobody else was on the ground and the syrian forces were the ground forces to destroy the caliphate and about 2700 americans and god bless them all, but the infantry on the assault of iraq for destroying the caliphate in syria were the syrian democratic forces and we belief that erdogan's decision to go into syria puts our allies at risk. we believe that the rise of isis is imminent if this continues. we appreciate what the president did with sanctions in turkey, and we are here to add to it, and to supplement what the president did and let turkey know that there are three branches of government and i doubt if the court can do much, but congress is going to speak with a very firm singular voice that we will impose sanctions, and the strongest measure possible against the turkish
outrage that will lead to the reemergence of isis and the destruction of the ally and the kurds who eventually benefit to iran to the detriment of israel, and i will briefly go over what is in the bill, but i would like to make a statement that the house passed yesterday a resolution urging the president to change course inside of syria, and 354-60. i believe that same resolution if brought to the floor of the united states senate would get over 80 votes, and i am urging senator mcconnell and senator schumer to find a way to do that, because people are literally dying as we speak, and we want the president to be successful. secretary pompeo and vice president pence are meeting with turkey as i speak. i called this morning to jeffries, our envoy regarding syria to tell him that we would
be here at 12:30 east coast time, and that the sanctions against turkey is going to be just the beginning. and so we ask for turkey to withdraw before the invasion and to stop all operations against the kurdish allies and reset the table. what we are doing here is to sanctions the top turkish officials beyond what the administration did restricting the visa assets, access to the country, and asking a deep dive into erdogan's personal finances, and we are issuing the sanctions against the turkish armed forces and i find it outrageous that f-16s designed by the united states are being used to bomb a good ally. we are going to sanction the hawk bank which is involved in some very nefarious activity trying to get around iranian sanction, and we are considering
the purchase of the s-400 the russian missile system to be a significant event mandating katsa sanctions to be imposed within 30 days and prohibit u.s. military assistance and prohibit any u.s. person from purchasing sovereign debt from the government of turkey. these are wide ranging and hard hitting and i will turn it over to senator van hollen with one thought. the turkish/u.s. relationship is worth salvaging, but it cannot be salvaged until erdogan changes course. they are a nato ally and i find it incredible that a nato ally is going to be attacking the ground component most significantly responsible for the destruction of isis, and so to the average american what does this matter to you? i think that it matters a lot that isis cannot reemerge, the caliphate is destroyed, but they are alive and well in terms of the ground component and 15,000 to 20,000 fighters and about the
kurds, they are going to need help in the future. israel, and the nightmare for israel is for iran to be the biggest winner of the vacuum we have created from the withdrawal of syria, and if they come down to take the oil from syria, they are going to be richer and israel is going to be surrounded more strongly than they are today by iran. so at the end of the day, this is about israel, and it is about isis, and it is about iran and aligning with assad is not a good outcome for the united states. if the kurds are forced to align with assad, they are aligning with iran, and i cannot think of a worse outcome for the u.s. national security interests to abandoned the kurdish forces who have helped us and force them into arms of the iranians at the expense of the national security and prestige and to ensure the
rise of the isis. our kurdish friends cannot do it all. and for a few hundred troops we can fix this problem. we need to reset, get turkey to stand down and the sanctions will receive a large bipartisan vote, and they are going to stay in place until turkey changes the behavior. senator van hollen. >> thank you, senator graham. let me start by saying that maryland and the country have lost an incredible leader and hero with the passing of elijah cummings. he was a good friend. he was one of maryland's favorite sons, and to my mind he was a hero for our times, and we will miss his sense of dignity and principle. and it is the sense of principle of standing up for america and the values around the world that brings us here today, and i think it is not a surprise to anybody that senator graham and i don't agree on lots of things -- >> could you say that again?
>> we don't agree on a lot of things. and we do agree, this is a precarious moment for our country and our role in the world. when we first learned of the president's decision and turkey's response, we both had the same reaction, and first to call upon the president to do everything in his power to un-do the damage that has been caused, but also, also that we in the congress have a bipartisan responsibility to stand up for america's role in the world. i'm very pleased that we are joined here today by a bipartisan group of senators, senators shaheen, senators blumenthal, and blackburn and others who are joining us in this effort. we agree that we need swift and bipartisan action to repair the damage caused by the decision to allow turkey to attack our chief partner in the fight against
isis terrorists, and to make sure that we stop the revival of isis. the syrian kurds have been the tip of the spear in the fight against isis and the remer -- reemergence and we cannot abandon them. senator graham mentioned the bill that passed the house, and then to take up immediately the bill we are introducing today. we all recognize that much damage has been done, and senator graham said that russia, and assad and isis are moving quickly to fill the void, but, but we can demonstrate in a bipartisan way that american leadership matters here in the congress and take the measures that we are calling for today. and we have to send a message and we have to send the message that america is going to stand with our allies in the fight against terrorism, and that we
will fight to make sure that isis does not get oxygen and come back. they are down but they are not out. this action that has been taken gives them an opportunity to come back and we cannot allow that to happen. that is the result of the decisions that have been made and the turkish aggression. i just wanted to hold up a headline that tells you what the problem is here. it is right here, the turkish-backed forces are freeing islamic state prisoners. turkish-backed forces are freeing islamic state prisoners. we can not expect the kurds to be fighting against isis when they are fighting for their lives in turkey. so we are doing the one thing in our power, in our power here in the united states congress to stop the slaughter of syrian kurds and by the way, this is ethnic cleansing going on, and the turkish proxies engaged in the fight include a lot of the
al nusra elements and they have al qaeda dna and they are intent on wiping out the syrian kurds and we are doing everything in our power to stop the resurgence of isis. senator graham mentioned what the bill would do, and he went through the items in the bill. what i want to stress is that it is in turkey's power to avoid these sanctions. >> amen. >> we wish we were not here imposing these sanctions. and these sanctions would be lifted immediately if turkey stops killing our syrian kurdish allies and stop enabling the rise of isis and if turkey moves itself and the proxy forces back to where they were before this invasion. in fact, if turkey took the actions now, the sanctions would not go into place. and i agree with senator graham, we want turkey as in a ally, but they are testing their role within nato, and with this
action and with their previous acceptance of the delivery of the russian s-400 air defense system, and we do not want the sanctions to have to go into effect, but, but in order to make it clear to the world, we will stand by our syrian kurdish partners to stop the resurgence of isis and to make sure that those things happen. we are insisting that this is going to take place in fur ki does not act to protect all of our interests, and so, now it is my privilege to turn podium over to senator marsha blackburn from tennessee tennessee. >> senator van hollen, and he and i have been in an agreement for a long time on the importance of standing with the kurds and when we were each house members, we co-chaired the kurdish caucus. and the reason i was involved with it is because of the population of kurds that call
nashville and tennessee home. and the kurds have stood with us without fail. they have been resolute in their ability to push back on evil and they have been resolute in pushing back on isis, and they have lost thousands of lives. and the kurds there fighting to make certain that we have the safe area, and making certain that the sdf was holding these isis prisoners. this is something that is not lost on us. and it is not lost on them. now, as you have heard, turkey could stop this right now, if they wanted to. looking at our turkey allies, we
hope that turkey is going to receive the message that it is important for them to stop this. i want to commend senator graham. i want to commend senator van hollen for bringing the legislation forward. sanctions are important. and is important to realize that we will not stop. this is not going to be the last step. this is the first step to make certain that all that we have fought for, and the gains that we have made are not going to be pushed aside because of turkey's aggression aggression. >> good afternoon. i'm pleased to join my colleagues here both republican and democrat to address the tragic disaster in syria. senator graham and i had the opportunity to to visit northeastern syria last year. we walked around the markets where families felt safe to do their shopping, and we broke
bread with our kurdish and arab partners and everywhere we went, we saw children flashing the "v" signs when they saw the members of the american military and what we heard over and over again from the kurds, from the syrians from the arabs who we met was please don't let the united states abandon us. well, that is what we have done, and it is heartbreaking to see how things have changed and to see the video where is kurds are killed by turkish fighters with the hands tied the behind their backs. we have seen the worst case scenario in the region that many of us have long feared and make no mistake, the seeds of where we are to dday began when the administration withheld the stabilization dollars of syria and when president trump announced that he would withdraw the troops to syria, and that
sent a strong signal to turkey and president erdogan, and now within a week we have undone five years of hard-fought stability in northeastern syria, and president erdogan needs to hear the unequivocal message to this incursion, and that is what these sanctions are going to hopefully send a message. we can't undo the damage that has been done, but we can demonstrate to president erdogan, that it is not just president trump who speaks for american foreign policy, but it is also the congress. i want to thank especially senators graham and van hollen for their leadership, and also point out that i believe that the president should withdraw his invitation for president erdogan to come be his guest here. it is totally unacceptable when people are being killed because of turkey's actions and because of this president's decision that we are extending
hospitality and niceties to president erdogan in the white house of the united states of america. so i believe that state visit needs to be canceled and it needs to be canceled immediately. with that, let me turn it over to senator blumenthal. >> thank you. my thanks to senator graham and senator van hollen, and just for the people of south carolina, i do disagree a lot with senator graham. >> and a lot. >> and let me just emphasize a really important point here having sat through this morning a classified top secret briefing from the secretary of defense and the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, my feeling was horror and shame. to the people of the united
states, you should feel horror and shame, and deep disappointment in the abdication of leadership and our values by your leaders. president trump has abdicated leadership and the congress must act. the congress must act to stop isis from resurging which is happening right now unfolding and in realtime right before our eyes, and making a potential mockery of the lives lost and the bloodshed and the sacrifices made by our men and women in uniform, and partners who have fought with them and lost lives with them. there is nothing more basic to a great nation than its word.
when its promises are broken, its credibility is lost as a partner and ally and as an adversary. and americans should feel horror, feel horror and shamed and deep disappointment that, that lasting damage is being done to america's credibility. the windfall here is to iran and russia. again, to vladimir putin. why always is putin the winner? this kind of shredding of america's credibility will do lasting damage. we may not be able to unscramble the a but we can undo at least some of the damage and that will be the results of strong, stiff sanctions imposed swiftly in
this act. this measure gut punches turkey where it hurts. that's why it is necessary to get erdogan tension aattention him to roll back this and the american people deserved to hear what we heard today behind closed doors. i have said as much that that hearing. they deserve to hear all of the facts on the ground. so they'll know what can and should be done to reverse this misguided policy. let me just say and i never thought i would say this about the united states of america. we are going to be compe compli the ethnic cleansing as a result
of this appalling action. we'll be held responsible rightfully so by history for the potential genocide that will occur in that region if we fail to act. history will haunt us. if we continue to retreat from those basic principles. i can say that we are going to have strong bipartisan support for this measure, the best measure and the best sign of it is the number of our colleagues who want to support it now and i look forward to gaining support as we go forward. thank you. >> the president has long been reluctant on putting pressure on erdogan. do you worry that erdogan no longer has any fear or respect
of the united states and is going to ignore anything that congress does. >> number one, i want to compliment the administration for imposing sanctions. i think they are real. the deal will matter to turkey. we'll pay a heavier price here. this is about restoring our honor and i don't need to lecture the american people about isis. if you missed the last four years, you missed a lot. if you think they're going to europe, you are kidding yourself. they want us more than anybody else. they're out to destroy israel. the kurds in their eyes are their enemies and not allies. the bottom line is, what the administration has done has gotten turkey's attention but clearly has not worked. the president did not give a green light but erdogan went in anyway. that's the problem. the reason we are doing this because china is watching. russia is watching. iran is watching.
i want them to know that you will not get a pass. if you do something in hong kong, you got to get hit harder than we are doing today. if you move into parts of eastern europe and russia, we are still here and we'll hold you accountable. iran if you keep on threatening the neighborhood, more is coming your way. not only it is important to restore the credibility that we loss with erdogan, it is important to restore our opposition in the world and let others know what comes our way. >> i would like to respond to that as well. so erdogan clearly listens to president trump on that phone call. the message he got was go ahead and attack the syrian kurds, that's obviously the way erdogan interprets it. the president has said he's going to quote, "destroy turkey's economy" if they keep on doing what they're doing. my question is for god's sakes,
when are you going to act? the slaughter is going on right now. the sanctions on turkish deal were the same sanction that the president put on turkey when we had a pastor who was held by turkey. they represent four-tenths of 1% of all of turkey's exports. my goodness, the president if he wants to act, he has the authority today to under take a lot of the sanctions that we are calling for. he should do it but -- the point we are making here today is in the absence of presidential action to stand up for the principles and values and support our allies and stop on the se rresurgence. we'll act. >> abigail. you are next. >> do you think president trump will sign these sanctions if it
passes? >> my hope is he'll see them as leverage. i don't know what pompeo and pence are going to accomplish today. hopefully they'll accomplish something and not the bloodshed. >> marsha spoke about the kurds. if we standby the sidelines and these people get rolled over, god help us all in the future. president trump is on the ground telling to erdogan. i called this morning. i want turkey to understand it is not just trump or pompeo, it is the rest of us. bipartisan wide and deep. i am hoping that this will help their hand but i think we had to vote on these sanctions, it would be veto proof. i will vote president trump would welcome them.
>> highwthis ongoing military operation team? >> i think it is complicated. i think what we are trying to do is make sure america no longer -- we are trying to send a signal purchase of this of whatever problems we have before or if not worst. if you want to be a nato ally, you got to act like a nato ally. can you imagine any nato country invading syria to the benefit of us. they're invading to the benefit of isis. they have a concern about why pg elements in syria. i get that. i have been saying that for years. i told erdogan. this is not the solution. it was you, president erdogan who led the irish fighters flowing into begin with. >> senator graham. >> yes. >> why do you think that president trump listens to you
when he wanted to quickly withdraw then and why he's not listening to you now, what specific assurances president erdogan made in the phone call that you participated in with president trump. >> president trump did not wake up two weeks ago and say hey erdogan, you can have syria. in december he announced the withdraw to president trump's credit. we reconfigured that withdraw and slowed in down and reassured the kurds that we are not going to abandon you. we are sympathetic to the problem. for us, they were allies. we are trying to accommodate both interests. what happens is erdogan called the president a couple of weeks ago and accused our general of slow walking of safe zone that
we have created and lying and that he could not tolerate it anymore. it is not like president trump woke up one day and i am tired of syria and erdogan called him and says i am going to go in and the president told him not to, the problem we had did not work. here is what i fear if it does not work with erdogan, it is not going to work. i think now is the moment for the president to embrace bipartisan ship to work with the congress and let us be your partner to get the objective. reset the table and stay in touch with the kurds. make sure isis does not come back and give turkey some reasonable sense of security. that could only happen if we stop the bloodshed. i see no scenario where we can achieve our national security interest if we go to zero.
>> i want to add something to that. it is not about passing sanctions or sending the vice president to meet with president erdogan. president trump needs to send a strong signal to president erdogan that he himself does not approve what's going on in syria. that's why i said resend your invitation to president erdogan. let him know you don't aprprove of what he's doing and we are not going to be nice to him until he changes his behavior. >> the action that president trump took after that earlier phone call from erdogan was to withdraw our special forces which obviously left the syrian kur kurds vulnerable. we are doing our best to salvage a difficult situation. the president has the authority today to do a lot more than the
pinprick steel measure that he under took. he can do a lot in this bill today. what we are saying is that we are moving one way or another on a bipartisan bases to stand up for american values to do what's right for our allies and stop the resurgence of isis. >> we got one more question. >> we want to understand what you are saying here as far as sanctions. did you think it is possible for the president to return american troops in a way that creates a safe zone. how this president is seen, he has just announces and he's going to hold the gm summit at his resort in florida. do you think that affects how he's seen as a leader and what his interests are. >> i think it would be a nice trip. i am not here you know, my differences of the president are real. nobody asked me if obama were unfit for office if he withdraws
from iraq. here is what i hope will happen. i hope president trump will seize the opportunity to work with us for the greater good. i hope he'll listen to his generals. he made a remark about me, i want to be there a thousand years. no, i want to be there until we a safe. i have been in war zones, i have spent 33 years in the military. so this is no casual thing for me. i don't love war. what i crave is security. for my country and my allies, mr. president, if you don't understand that isis is coming back. you are misising a lot of good advice. if you don't understand the these - will kill us all. you are not listening to what we are saying. if you abandon these kurds on your presidency and our honor, how do you fix this? you lead, you tell erdogan, i am speaking for a nation now. i have the backing of the united
states congress. we'll not tolerate this. we want a good relationship but you are destroying it and i have the backing of the united states congress. i have got the backing of people who want to impeach me. i got the backing of people who is going to defend me. i want erdogan to stand down before it is too late to get out of syria. give us a chance to deal with your legitimate concerns. do not abandon the kurds mr. president. some of our troops need to stay involved in the counter isis fight because there is 15 or 20,000 isis fighters still on the loose inside syria. the day we leave will be when we can say we are safe. every military leader, mr. president, believes we need a few hundreds of us to keep the isis fight going in a positive direction. 10,000 kurds were injured or killed. every one of them went down was one of us that did not have to
go down. this is a motto that worked. we destroyed the caliphate with eight casualties on the american side. what am i urging? just listen to the commanders. don't listen to rand paul or listen to me. we'll go play golf and we'll talk about golf. if you think i am a war mongrel. all i am asking is you do what president obama did not do. listen and adjust. you have the opportunity to reset the table with the configuration of american forces in the hundreds and not the thousands that'll reassure our valuable ally and keep iran being the biggest winner and protect our friends in israel. if you continue on the course you are on, you will have brought a lot of damage to the nation, you will abandon our
valuable allies, and mr. president, as much as i like you and want to work with you, i am going to be consistent. i will hold you accountable. >> let me just answer that question from the military standpoint. the answer is yes based on publicly available knowledge. the answer is yes, we have resources. >> let me just say closing here that over the congressional break, i was in afghanistan with senator whor hassett and talkin our commander on the ground. two take aways, some of them have been arm and arm with our syrian partners in the earlier deployments in the fight against isis. for them the president's action was one of the most shameful days. the second is we heard from their commander of their biggest concerns in afghanistan is
not -- the rise of isis in afghanistan taking direction from the folks, isis folks who are in syria in iraq. while they blossom in territory, they are already unfortunately alive and kicking before the decision by the president, the action by erdogan and turkey forcing. now, they be given new fuel and oxygen and we can't stand for that and we and congress must do our part. sanctions is not a perfect tool but we have to do what's in our power to do what's right. thank you all very much. >> can you clarify something about troops? are you hoping that some troops remain? have you gotten route that just a few hundreds. what's happening with the u.s. troops? are all of them leaving?
can you clarify with that? >> it is not clear to me exactly what's happening. as you know things coming out of the white house change by the hour. the answer i am saying is we need to move quickly and put in place these sanctions, they are tough sanctions. they can be avoided or lifted. when turkey is stop slaughtering our allies and takes itself and its proxy back to where they were before they were attacked. thanks. after the briefing vice president pence announced the u.s. reached the deal with turkey for a cease-fire to allow kurds to withdraw. turkey will pause all military operations for 120 hours.
vladimir putin and the president of turkey will be meeting at sochi, russia. maryland congressman elijah cummings died early this morning. his wife issued this statement. elijah cummings was an honorable man who served the district with dignity. he spoke at the national press club last summer. here are some of his remarks. [ applause ] we must stop the hateful comments. we got to do it. those in the highest level of government must stop invoking fear and using racist language and encouragiing represenceable behavior. it creates division among us.