Turkey's president: Trump told me he's 'sorry' about violence involving Turkish bodyguards in DC

Key Points
  • Trump and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan spoke on the phone about a May clash in Washington that involved Erdogan's bodyguards, Turkey's leader told PBS
  • Erdogan told PBS that Trump had expressed regret over the matter and said he'd follow up on the issue
Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (L) shakes hands with U.S President Donald Trump as they make statements to reporters in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, U.S. May 16, 2017.
Kevin Lamarque | Reuters

President Donald Trump said he was "sorry" about an incident where Turkish security personnel attacked protesters in Washington D.C., according to an account from Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

In an interview with PBS NewsHour released Tuesday, the Turkish head of state said Trump expressed regret about the matter during a phone conversation. The White House subsequently pushed back on that claim.

"President Trump called me about a week ago about this issue. He said that he was sorry, and he told me that he was going to follow up on this issue when we come to the United States within the framework of an official visit," Erdogan said, according to a translation from PBS.

@NewsHour tweet: .@RT_Erdogan tells @JudyWoodruff Trump called him abt incident in DC this summer to say he was sorry + wanted to "follow up on this issue."

A White House official denied that Trump had said "sorry" for anything related to the brawl during the call.

"They discussed a wide range of issues but there was no apology," the official told CNBC.

Widely circulated video of the incident appears to show Turkish bodyguards beating prone protesters, even as Washington police are struggling to pull them away.

A grand jury in Washington has indicted 15 Turkish security guards for beating up Kurdish protesters during Erdogan's visit to the U.S. capital in May. Washington's police chief called the incident a "brutal attack" on peaceful protesters, while the U.S. State Department described the situation as "deeply disturbing."