WASHINGTON, DC (CNN) — The White House has denied that President Donald Trump called Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to apologize for the violent incident that unfolded outside of the Turkish ambassador’s residence in Washington in mid-May when Erdogan’s bodyguards and supporters attacked peaceful protesters.
Erdogan told PBS NewsHour Monday that Trump told him he was sorry for what happened when the two men spoke on September 9.
“Actually, President Trump called me about a week ago about this issue,” Erdogan told PBS’ Judy Woodruff. “He said that he was sorry, and he 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. The protesters were insulting us, and they were screaming and shouting. The police failed to intervene properly.”
However, the White House disputed Erdogan’s claim Wednesday, saying his description of the conversation was “wrong.”
“The topic was discussed. There was no apology,” White House deputy press secretary Lindsay Walters told CNN Wednesday.
Erdogan met with Trump at the White House just hours before the brawl occurred in May, and footage that was later released showed Erdogan looking on from the driveway of the residence as his security officials beat up protesters.
In August, a grand jury in Washington returned indictments against 15 Turkish security officials and four other individuals on charges of attacking protesters. According to the indictment, the Turkish security officials “used threats and physical violence — intensely kicking at protesters — to dispel the anti-Erdogan protesters, and blatantly ignore American law enforcement commands to cease the violence.”
The Turkish security officials left the country before they were charged.