Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo claimed on Friday that Republican U.S. Senate candidate Dr. Mehmet Oz could pose a security threat if elected.
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 former congressman from Kansas, said Oz, who holds dual citizenship, must explain his relationship with the Turkish government, citing Oz’s decision to vote in Turkish elections as recently as in 2018 and his work with Turkish Airlines.
“Maybe it’s all innocent, maybe it’s all simple, but we and the people of Pennsylvania and the Americans he will represent as one of 100 members of the U.S. Senate voting on important security issues national must understand the scope and depth of its relationship with the Turkish government,” Pompeo said.
“I was involved in the process that judged efforts to receive national security information in the clearance process inside the United States. And specifically, the things we’ve seen reported are the kind many things that those who make these judgments about whether to provide this sensitive US information to government officials or private citizens, contractors working on behalf of the US government, these are precisely the kinds of questions they would ask to take a such a decision and they would get answers. They often get answers under polygraph.
Pompeo said Oz would likely get automatic access to classified information, which would reinforce the need for scrutiny ahead of the election.
The election is a test of Trump’s influence over the party’s leadership. In addition to Oz and McCormick, three other candidates have garnered 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,” Oz spokeswoman Brittany Yanick said.
“Now that he has lost President Trump’s endorsement, he has resorted to sad and desperate attacks that are no different from the tropes used against Catholics and Jews.”
Yanick said, “Dr. Oz has previously declared that once elected to the Senate, he would renounce his citizenship. There are no safety concerns, and David McCormick knows that Dr Oz retained his dual nationality to help care for his mother who has Alzheimer’s disease and lives there.
Oz said in March that he would give up his Turkish nationality if elected after previously saying he would keep it and forego classified briefings.
Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman is the favorite to win the Democratic primary in the race to replace incumbent Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.).
Trump recently exerted his influence in the nearby Ohio Senate primary. Trump-backed JD Vance won the Republican nomination this week after Trump’s endorsement after hovering in third place before the ex-president intervened.
McCormick has been criticized for his own conduct in international affairs. He previously ran the world’s largest hedge fund, Bridgewater Associates, which raised $1.25 billion last year for new investments in China, making the company one of the top foreign investors in the authoritarian country. Its allies deny having relocated jobs in India to another company.
Turkey is ruled by autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, notoriously watched in 2017 as his guards attacked Kurdish American and Armenian American protesters in Washington, DC.oz sayshe voted for Erdogan’s challenger in Turkey’s 2018 elections.
Oz rose to 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 United States from Turkey. He would be the first Muslim senator in US history.
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