Tags: Russia | Ukraine | lindsey graham | pranksters | kurds | turkey | phone call

Report: Sen. Graham Duped by Notorious Russian Pranksters

lindsey graham gestures with anger during a contentious senate judiciary committee hearing
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. (Andrew Harnik/AP)

By    |   Thursday, 10 October 2019 05:31 PM

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., got duped twice in August by the Russian pranksters Alexey Stolyarov and Vladimir Kuznetsov — and they got the senator to agree the Kurdish rebels in northern Syria were a "threat," according to news reports Thursday.

The pranksters, known as "Lexus and Vovan," have in recent years duped such U.S. politicians as current House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif.; Trump Energy Secretary Rick Perry, and former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley.

Stolyarov, who posed as Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar, recently provided a recording of the first Graham call to Politico.

Kevin Bishop, a Graham spokesman, confirmed Thursday the senator had been poked.

"We have been successful in stopping many efforts to prank Sen. Graham and the office, but this one slipped through the cracks," Bishop told Politico. "They got him."

In the first call, Stolyarov and Kuznetsov got Graham to make admissions that now run contrary to his recent opposition to President Donald Trump's decision Sunday to pull U.S. forces out of the region — leaving the Kurds vulnerable to attacks by Turkey.

In expressing sympathy for Turkey's "Kurdish problem," Graham told the pranksters: "Your YPG Kurdish problem is a big problem."

The senator, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, was referring to the Kurdish People's Protection Units, which began fighting the Islamic State as part of the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces in 2015.

However, Turkey considers the YPG terrorists because they are trying to establish an autonomous state for the Kurds on the Turkish-Syrian border, Politico reports.

In the second call — "a few days" later, according to Politico — Graham mentioned President Trump's interest in a "Turkish bank case" that appeared to involve Reza Zarrab, an Iranian-Turkish gold trader and client of Trump personal attorney Rudy Giuliani.

Bloomberg News reported Wednesday the president had asked then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in 2017 to help persuade the Justice Department to drop the Zarrab case.

Tillerson refused, according to Bloomberg, arguing it would constitute interference in a continuing investigation.

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Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., got duped twice in August by the Russian pranksters Alexey Stolyarov and Vladimir Kuznetsov — and they got the senator to agree the Kurdish rebels in northern Syria were a "threat," according to news reports Thursday.
lindsey graham, pranksters, kurds, turkey, phone call
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2019-31-10
Thursday, 10 October 2019 05:31 PM
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