In an effort to guard against undue foreign influence in the federal legislature, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Friday raised red flags about the potential national security threat posed by Pennsylvania Republican Senate candidate Dr. Mehmet Oz and connections he has maintained to his homeland of Turkey, as the Daily Wire reports.
Pompeo’s concerns come on the heels of reporting from ABC News revealing that Oz voted in Turkey’s elections as recently as 2018 as well as allegations that the longtime television personality may have violated the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) when he failed to formally register as a foreign agent concerning work he performed for Turkish Airlines, an entity in which that country’s government owns a 49.12% stake.
Pompeo sounds the alarm
In a press briefing on Friday, Pompeo directly addressed Oz’s potential foreign entanglements, saying, “We criticize American candidates all the time because they didn’t vote. This is different front that. Not only did he not engage in the American [process] but he engaged in the Turkish political process. That raises in my mind a lot of judgments about his priority.”
Acknowledging that there may be an acceptable explanation for Oz’s conduct, Pompeo added, “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 U.S. Senate voting on important national security matters need to understand the scope and depth of his relationship with the Turkish government.”
Even so, Pompeo stated, “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,” he continued.
As the Daily Wire noted, representatives from the Oz campaign dismissed Pompeo’s comments as “pathetic and xenophobic,” though John V. Berry, a lawyer familiar with federal government security clearances, was quoted as saying, “[t]he decision to vote in a country’s election is problematic from a security clearance perspective.”
Though Oz has had successful careers in medicine and television, and is a household name in the United States, something of a conservative firestorm erupted when he received the endorsement of former President Donald Trump in the Pennsylvania Senate race.
Trump declared that Oz “is pro-life, very strong on crime, the border, election fraud, our great military, and our vets, tax cuts, and will always fight for an support our under-siege Second Amendment,” but not everyone on the former president’s side of the political aisle is convinced.
On Friday night, Oz was audibly booed by the assembled crowd at a rally headlined by Trump, perhaps most noticeably during the presentation of a video clip in which the candidate describes himself as pro-life, a policy stance many believe is inconsistent with statements he has made in the past.
“I can’t say he’s a [Republican In Name Only], but I certainly can’t say he’s a conservative either,” said Allegheny County, Pennsylvania Republican committee chair, Sam DeMarco, and Fox News host Laura Ingraham declared, “I think it was a mistake for Trump to endorse Oz,” as Newsweek noted.
With high-powered Republicans such as Pompeo taking such a firm stance against Oz, it remains to be seen whether Trump’s endorsement in the Pennsylvania race will carry the same weight it did in J.D. Vance’s win in Ohio’s hotly contested GOP Senate primary, and the outcome may speak volumes about the former president’s future prospects as party kingmaker.