On Sunday's latest episode of Last Week Tonight, John Oliver took on Turkey's president, explaining why he's worried about the leader's new presidential powers and the implications they have for both the United States and the world. To make matters worse, Oliver isn't happy about Trump's response to Recep Tayyip Erdogan's heightened authority either.
On his show, Oliver explained that Turkish voters recently passed a controversial referendum which moves Turkey from a parliamentary system to a presidential system and provides its president with sweeping powers which will enable him to exercise a substantial amount of control over the country and its affairs. It also allows for Erdogan to possibly remain in power until 2029, according to Oliver.
Oliver explained that the results of the referendum, which, according to the New York Times, barely passed with 51.3 percent of the vote, are subject to much controversy and have faced critique from neutral European election observers. Indeed, according to The Atlantic, election observers reportedly viewed many instances of "voting irregularity," which is why the Turkish opposition party is calling for a recount of nearly 2.5 million votes that they believe may have been impacted by these irregularities.
The controversy surrounding the passage of this referendum coupled with the fact that it gives President Erdogan substantially increased powers is disconcerting enough. However, according to Oliver, Donald Trump's reaction to the passage of the referendum is also cause for concern.
Oliver reported that, while Trump's press secretary Sean Spicer tried to remain neutral on the issue during a press briefing considering the controversy surrounding vote legitimacy, Trump actually called President Erdogan to congratulate him on his victory. While Oliver did note that Turkey is a close ally of the United States and thus the Trump administration has to be cautious in terms of how they respond to Erdogan, he noted that he found Trump's self-admitted conflict of interest in Turkey particularly disquieting.
Oliver predicted that Trump is likely keen to "stay on Erdogan's good side" due to the fact that, during an interview with Breitbart in 2015, Trump stated that he "had a little conflict of interest [with Turkey] because [he has] a major, major building in Istanbul and it's a tremendously successful job ... it's called Trump Towers." As early as November 2016, Trump denied that his business empire posed a conflict of interest.
The late night host expressed that the Turkish referendum itself along with Trump's potential conflict of interest with the country mean that Oliver now should "add Turkey to his list of things to worry about." More broadly, Oliver also explained his overall concern with Trump's handling of recent world affairs, particularly his interactions with North Korean and Turkish officials, and expressed anxiety over the implications of these interactions on world security and stability.
Overall, Oliver's segment on Turkey provided a sobering reminder of the potential impacts of the presidential powers referendum and of the profound effects that relationships between global leaders can have on global affairs and the lives of individuals all around the world.
Images: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver/HBO