Trump Doubles Steel and Aluminum Tariffs on Turkey; 'Relations Not Good'

By Susan Jones | August 10, 2018 | 9:24 AM EDT

President Donald Trump and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan met at the White House in May 2017. (Photo: Screen capture)

( - The Trump administration's simmering feud with Turkey ratcheted up on Friday, with the following tweet from President Trump:

"I have just authorized a doubling of Tariffs on Steel and Aluminum with respect to Turkey as their currency, the Turkish Lira, slides rapidly downward against our very strong Dollar! Aluminum will now be 20% and Steel 50%. Our relations with Turkey are not good at this time!" Trump tweeted around 9 a.m.

President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence recently warned Turkey of "consequences" if it does not return American pastor Andrew Brunson to the United Sates. The Turkish government arrested Brunson, among many others, following a failed coup attempt in 2016, but the Trump administration said the charges are bogus.

“Pastor Brunson was in prison without being charged for more than a year, and when the Turkish government finally indicted him, they accused him allegedly of dividing and separating Turkey by simply spreading his Christian faith," Pence told a recent gathering at the State Department. "Pastor Andrew Brunson is an innocent man. There is no credible evidence against him. Our entire administration has worked tirelessly to secure Pastor Brunson’s release,” he said.

The government of Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan is demanding the extradition of a U.S.-based Turkish Muslim cleric, Fethullah Gulen, whom they accuse of instigating the 2016 coup.

In late July, Turkey sharply criticized President Trump’s threats to impose sanctions unless it releases Brunson, saying it would “never tolerate threats from anybody” and urging the U.S. to “review its manners.”

At the State Department yesterday, spokeswoman Heather Nauert refused to discuss the administration's meeting with Turkey's visiting foreign minister.

"Obviously, you all know that we have a very broad relationship with Turkey and a host of issues that we talk about with the Turkish Government whenever we do meet. Yesterday we had a wide-ranging conversation with Turkish Government officials. We made it clear that Pastor Brunson needs to be returned home. Much of this, though, we're not going to negotiate in public...I would say we would define progress as Pastor Brunson being brought home," Nauert said.

Erdogan is an an Islamist whose authoritarian rule and crackdown on dissent has soured relations with the West. He has been president since 2003.

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