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Mike Pompeo calls Senate wannabe Dr. Oz potential security threat over Turkey ties

Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Friday alleged that Republican US Senate candidate Dr. Mehmet Oz may be a security threat if he is elected to office.

Oz received the endorsement of former President Donald Trump ahead of the May 17 Republican primary in Pennsylvania, but many Trump administration veterans, including Pompeo, back businessman David McCormick.

Pompeo, a former CIA director and ex-Kansas congressman, said that Oz, who holds dual citizenship, must explain his relationship with Turkey’s government, citing Oz’s decision to vote in Turkish elections as recently as 2018 and his work with Turkish Airlines.

“Maybe it’s all innocent, maybe it’s all straight up, but we and the people of Pennsylvania and the Americans who he will be representing as one of 100 members of the US Senate voting on important national security matters need to understand the scope and depth of his relationship with the Turkish government,” Pompeo said.

“I was involved in the process which adjudicated efforts to receive national security information — the clearance process inside the United States. And precisely the things that we have seen reported are the kinds of things that those who are making those judgments about whether to provide that sensitive American information — to government officials or to private citizens, to contractors are working on behalf of the American government — these are precisely the kinds of questions they would ask in making such a determination and they get answers. They often get answers under polygraph.”

Mike Pompeo said Oz needs to explain his relationship with Turkey’s government.
Bloomberg via Getty Images

Pompeo said Oz likely would get automatic access to classified information, heightening the need for scrutiny before the election.

The election is a test of Trump’s influence over the direction of the party. In addition to Oz and McCormick, three other candidates have had double-digit support in recent GOP primary polls.

The Oz campaign dismissed Pompeo’s criticism.

“These are pathetic and xenophobic attacks on Dr. Oz by David McCormick, who should be ashamed of himself,” said Oz spokeswoman Brittany Yanick. 

“Now that he lost President Trump’s endorsement, he’s resorted to sad and desperate attacks that are no different than the tropes used against Catholics and Jews.”

Yanick said, “Dr. Oz has already said when elected to the Senate he would renounce his citizenship. There is no security issue whatsoever, and David McCormick knows that Dr. Oz has maintained his dual citizenship to make it easier to help care for his mother who has Alzheimer’s and lives there.”

Oz said in March that he would give up his Turkish citizenship if he is elected — after previously saying he would keep it and forgo classified briefings.

Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman is favored to win the Democratic primary in the race to replace retiring Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.).

Trump recently flexed his influence in next-door Ohio’s Senate primary. Trump-backed J.D. Vance won the Republican nomination this week following Trump’s endorsement after hovering in third place before the ex-president intervened.

David McCormick
Pompeo is backing David McCormick in the Pennsylvania Senate race.
Bloomberg via Getty Images

McCormick has faced criticism of his own conduct in international affairs. He formerly led the world’s largest hedge fund, Bridgewater Associates, which raised $1.25 billion last year for new investments in China — making the firm one of the top foreign investors in the authoritarian nation. His allies deny that he offshored jobs to India at a different company.

Turkey is ruled by autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who notoriously watched in 2017 as his guards attacked Kurdish American and Armenian American protesters in Washington, DC. Oz says he voted for Erdogan’s challenger in Turkey’s 2018 election.

Oz gained fame as a regular medical guest on Oprah Winfrey’s talk show before launching his own program in 2009. He was born in Cleveland, Ohio, after his parents immigrated to the US from Turkey. He would be the first Muslim senator in US history.

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