President Trump has been making the most of his bragging rights over the release of Pastor Andrew Brunson who was held captive by the Turkish government, one of the U.S.’s nominal allies, for over two years.
Brunson was detained by Turkey on suspicions of espionage after living in the predominantly Muslim country for over 20 years and was seen by many as an innocent, but strategic pawn to be used by Turkish President Recep Erdoğan to trade for the extradition of his political nemesis Fethullah Gülen whom Erdoğan accuses of being behind an unsuccessful coup attempt in 2016.
The Trump administration reportedly avoided having to trade the extradition of Gülen to obtain Brunson’s release by instead promising to relieve some of the economic sanctions that had been imposed on the country due to Brunson’s imprisonment.
Now Trump has made political hay out of the successful attempt to secure the pastor’s freedom by having invited him to the White House for a televised press conference. Trump’s politicization of the event was made clear by the very first, very narcissistic question he asked Brunson after the pastor completed an opening prayer in the Oval Office, according to Vox.
“Can I ask you one question,” Trump asked. “Who did you vote for?”
The question elicited “awkward, forced laughter” from the assembled onlookers including his Cabinet to whom Trump then turned to and told in a fake whisper ““I knew the answer.”
While neither Pastor Brunson or his wife, who was also at the meeting, could be heard actually answering the question, it’s unlikely that Brunson voted for Trump or at all for that matter since he was imprisoned before the 2016 election took place.
Brunson did thank the president for helping negotiate his release, but the Trump’s question proved that the only thing that matters to him is his personal aggrandizement and ego gratification.
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