Political journalists on Wednesday questioned whether a letter from President Donald Trump to Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, leaked by the White House to Fox News, was authentic—expressing shock over the president's sophomoric threats and demand the two leaders "work out a good deal!"
Fox anchor Trish Regan tweeted that she had obtained a copy of the letter Trump sent to Erdoğan on October 9 as Turkey began its offensive in northeastern Syria, days after Trump withdrew U.S. troops from the area and left the Kurds vulnerable.
EXCLUSIVE: I have obtained a copy of @realDonaldTrump’s letter to #Erdogan. @POTUS warns him to not “be a tough guy! Don’t be a fool!” Says he could destroy Turkey’s economy if #Syria is not resolved in a humane way. Details tonight at 8pm #TrishRegan #FoxBusiness pic.twitter.com/9BoSGlbRyt
— Trish Regan (@trish_regan) October 16, 2019
"Don't let the world down," Trump wrote, urging Erdoğan to use military restraint as his own decision to abandon the Kurds was condemned across the political spectrum. "You can make a good deal."
"History will look upon you favorably if you get this done in the right and humane way. It will look upon you forever as the devil if good things don't happen," the president continued. "Don't be a tough guy. Don't be a fool! I will call you later."
"Is this real?" asked Krystal Ball, a journalist for The Hill, in a tweet. "This can't be real."
Is this real? This can’t be real. https://t.co/i5LPH9eGC4
— Krystal Ball (@krystalball) October 16, 2019
Ball's incredulousness was mirrored by a number of other reporters, including New York Times White House correspondent Katie Rogers, who verified its authenticity with administration officials.
Felt the need to ask WH if this is actually real and it is. pic.twitter.com/bHyIFw6cvO
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— Katie Rogers (@katierogers) October 16, 2019
Honestly this letter from Trump to Erdogan would make more sense if it were written in crayon on lined practice paper rather than on White House letterhead pic.twitter.com/YN97BuXgqk
— Brian Klaas (@brianklaas) October 16, 2019
MSNBC's Chris Hayes noted that considering the date the letter was sent, the Turkish president clearly treated Trump's words with little gravity.
That bizarre letter was sent a week ago, FYI. Meaning it was...basically thrown in the trash by Erdogan.
— Chris Hayes (@chrislhayes) October 16, 2019
Trump told reporters earlier on Wednesday that he was considering releasing the letter, when asked whether Turkey's decision to begin bombing Syria last week took him by surprise.
The letter was publicized shortly after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) informed the press about a "meltdown" Trump had in a White House meeting Wednesday in which he claimed "some of ISIS were communists."
"Trump wrote a letter to the Turkish president written like a child and then screamed at the Speaker of the House abusively and was reportedly unable to understand the situation in Syria," tweeted political analyst Jared Yates Sexton, summing up the day's events. "We cannot keep going like this."