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Linda Qiu
By Linda Qiu August 16, 2016

Trump campaign chair misquotes Russian media in bogus claim about NATO base terrorist attack

Donald Trump’s comments about "Second Amendment people" doing something to stop Hillary Clinton continued to dog his campaign in interviews on the Sunday news shows.

But when CNN State of the Union host Jake Tapper brought up Trump’s seeming inability to stay on message, Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort insisted it’s the press who can’t lay off of Trump.

"I mean, there's plenty of news to cover this week that I haven't seen covered," Manafort said Aug. 14. "You had the NATO base in Turkey being under attack by terrorists. You had a number of things that were appropriate to this campaign, were part of what Mr. Trump has been talking about. ... Instead, you took an aside that the Clinton narrative told you was something, Mr. Trump told you he didn't mean, and you played it out for two days."

We hadn’t seen the terrorist attack covered either and wondered if the media had neglected a major story in order to wax on about Trump’s comments.

Indeed, reputable news outlets didn’t cover this story — because it didn’t happen as Manafort said.

Manafort seems to be fumbling an errant story from Russian state media.

The weekend of July 30, RT.com and Sputnik reported 7,000 armed police with heavy vehicles had surrounded Incirlik air base in Adana, Turkey, where 2,500 U.S. troops are stationed and some 50 U.S. nuclear weapons are stored.

The two Kremlin-funded outlets suggested that the lockdown was in response to another coup attempt after a faction of the Turkish military failed to overthrow Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

So already Manafort is wrong about two key points: The incident occurred two weeks before Trump’s Second Amendment remarks and did not involve terrorists.

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What’s more, the Russian outlets’ reports were not exactly reliable.

There were anti-U.S. demonstrations outside of Incirlik the night before the maneuver, but Turkish authorities said these were small and largely peaceful. They also dismissed speculation of a second coup and explained that police were conducting safety inspections in preparation for a top U.S. military official’s visit, according to Stars and Stripes and Bloomberg.

"It does appear that RT and Sputnik exaggerated their stories. Perhaps Putin was attempting to inflame emotions between Turkey and America. Which is certainly believable," said the conservative blog Right Scoop.

Granted, Incirlik’s stockpile of nuclear weapons has been a cause for concern, especially after the July 15 coup. Media reports have also documented how the internal Turkish struggle caused some logistical headaches for U.S. troops stationed at Incirlik (including, for example, power outages).

But that’s a far cry from a terrorist attack that flew under the news radar.

Officials at the Pentagon and NATO told us there have been no terrorist attacks at Incirlik or NATO’s Allied Central Command (LANDCOM) in Izmir, Turkey. The NATO official also pointed out that Incirlik is actually not a NATO base, though U.S. and Spanish troops are stationed there.

Our ruling

Manafort said there was a "NATO base in Turkey being under attack by terrorists" the week Trump made his comments about "Second Amendment people."

Russian media speculated that there was a second attempted coup at Incirlik air base in Turkey. That incident was exaggerated and occurred two weeks before Trump’s comments. Furthermore, though it houses NATO troops, Incirlik is not a NATO base. Neither Incirlik or NATO’s central headquarters in Izmir, Turkey, have been attacked by terrorists.

The event Manafort described did not happen. We rate Manafort’s claim Pants on Fire!

Our Sources

CNN, State of the Union, Aug. 14, 2016

Daily Beast, "How Russia Dominates Your Twitter Feed to Promote Lies (And, Trump, Too)," Aug. 6, 2016

RT.com, "1,000s Turkish forces surround NATO’s Incirlik air base for ‘inspection’ amid rumors of coup attempt," July 31, 2016

Sputnik News, "Turkish Police Block Access to NATO's Incirlik Air Base - Home of US Nukes," July 31, 2016

Military Times, "Thousands protest outside U.S. base in Turkey," July 28, 2016

Stars and Stripes, "More protests at Incirlik as US-Turkey tensions ratchet up," July 29, 2016

Bloomberg, "Turkey Restores Access to Key Airbase After Brief Ban, IHA Says," July 31, 2016

Email interviews with NATO's press office

Phone interivew with the Dept. of Defense press office

 

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Trump campaign chair misquotes Russian media in bogus claim about NATO base terrorist attack

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