Trump randomly asked Turkish president at 2019 G20 summit if he’d seen controversial movie ‘Midnight Express’, book says

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (L), US President Donald Trump (C) and Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman (R) pose for the family photo on the first day of the G20 summit in Osaka, Japan on 28 June 2019 . Metin Aktas/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

  • At the 2019 G20 summit, Trump asked the Turkish president if he had seen the movie ‘Midnight Express’.

  • “That’s a dark film for you,” Trump told the Turkish delegation of the controversial 1978 film.

  • Ex-Trump aide Stephanie Grisham recounted the conversation in her upcoming memoir.

  • See more stories on Insider’s company page.

Former President Donald Trump asked Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the foreign leader’s aides if they had seen the controversial 1978 film “Midnight Express” at the G20 summit in 2019, according to the forthcoming memoir of Trump’s aide Stephanie Grisham .

“That’s a dark film for you,” Trump told the Turkish delegation after asking the question, according to Grisham’s report, which was the first reported by The Guardian.

Grisham said there was “little response from the delegation” to Trump’s “out of the blue” comments. She added that there were “perhaps a few polite chuckles before the conversation continued, as if the President of the United States hadn’t just thrown that out.”

The Oscar-winning film, about an American man imprisoned in Turkey after trying to smuggle hashish out of the country, has been criticized for portraying Turks as cruel and violent and damaging to the country’s reputation. Both the director of the film, Alan Parker, and the writer, Oliver Stone, have said that they… regret how Turkish characters were portrayed in the film. The movie is widely despised in Turkey.

During his tenure, Trump repeatedly expressed his admiration for Erdoğan, who has led an increasingly authoritarian government that jails journalists, political opponents and Americans. Erdoğan also loved a referendum that dramatically expanded its own power.

After the 2020 elections, Congress finally approved economic sanctions against Turkey for the purchase of Russian missile defense systems.

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