- President Donald Trump told veteran reporter Bob Woodward that he got along better with "tougher and meaner" foreign leaders than "the simple" ones.
- Trump discussed with Woodward about Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has long recorded human rights violations, for his new book "Rage".
- "I get on really well with Erdogan, although you shouldn't because everyone is saying, 'What a terrible guy,'" Trump told Woodward.
- The president has often sparked controversy over his conciliatory, submissive behavior towards autocratic leaders.
- You can find more stories on the Business Insider homepage.
President Donald Trump told veteran journalist Bob Woodward that he got along better with "tougher and meaner" foreign leaders like Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
"I get on very well with Erdogan, even if you shouldn't, because everyone says 'what a terrible guy'", said Trump Woodward in one of 17 interviews for the journalist's new book "Rage" .
"But it works fine for me. It's funny, the relationships I have, the tougher and meaner they are, the better I get on with them. You know? Explain this to me one day, OK?" Trump added, "The simple ones are the ones I may not like that much or who I don't get along with as well."
The conversation was recorded. Woodward shared an audio clip on Monday highlighting Trump's stance toward foreign leaders NBC's "Today" show.
– TODAY (@TODAYshow) September 14, 2020
As Woodward noted in the book, Erdogan has a miserable record on human rights and in recent years has swiftly undermined all democratic controls of his authority while also cracking down on dissent.
In one of the most controversial moves of his term in office, Trump withdrew US troops from northeast Syria last October, paving the way for a Turkish military incursion directed against US-allied Kurdish forces. The Kurds bore the brunt of the US-led campaign against ISIS and played a crucial role in overthrowing the Islamic State caliphate. Erdogan has long viewed the Kurdish armed forces, especially the Syrian-Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG), as a threat and described them as terrorists.
Trump's decision to withdraw troops from the region and give the green light to the Turkish military attack was largely opposed in the US, including by Republicans who believed the president was leaving a key ally.
The president has often sparked controversy over his forgiving, submissive behavior towards autocratic leaders like Erdogan. Trump has also praised numerous anti-democratic leaders, from Russian President Vladimir Putin to Chinese President Xi Jinping, and his rhetoric often echoes theirs.
Meanwhile, Trump has undermined US relations with traditional allies by withdrawing from the 2015 Iranian nuclear deal and repeatedly bashing NATO allies on the basis of a misleading interpretation of the funding of the historic alliance.