US Senator Lindsay Graham of South Carolina was pranked by two Russians pretending to be Turkey's Defense Minister in an August phone call according to his office on October 10. A spokesperson for Graham confirmed that the South Carolina Senator spoke with Russian pranksters Alexey Stolyarov and Vladimir Kuznetsov in a conversation he assumed was with Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar. Kevin Bishop, Graham's spokesperson said they tried their best to stop efforts to prank Senator Graham. Ultimately, however, one of the prank calls slipped through.
According to the audio of the call provided to the international media, Graham calls the Kurds a threat to Turkey. It appears to contradict his public statements in recent days regarding President Donald Trump's decision to withdraw American troops out of the way of a Turkish invasion of Syria. The land-attack has been widely condemned by lawmakers on both sides for putting the Kurdish forces in danger.
According to the reports, the pranksters have suspected ties with Russian intelligence. Graham said that he repeatedly told President Trump that Obama made a huge mistake in relying on the YPG Kurds. He said all he worried about has come true and now they have to make sure Turkey is protected from the threat in Syria. He also tweeted Wednesday in which he directed followers to pray for Kurdish forces who have been shamelessly abandoned by the Trump administration.
During the second phone call, Graham told Stolyarov that he met with Trump and discussed the initial call. Graham relayed the message from Trump that he wants a better and enhanced relationship with Turkey. Graham lashed out on Trump's decision to remove US troops from northern Syria as Turkey plans a military offensive in the region saying it was not futuristic and irresponsible.
Bishop said Graham's statements in the call are in line with his desire for a stronger relationship between Turkey and the US. He said with Turkey's invasion into northern Syria the drive for better relations between the two countries has suffered. Turkey should immediately withdraw its military forces and America should reincorporate the safe zone concept to keep the peace and stability in the region.
Graham also raised the US case involving Reza Zarrab, a Turkish businessman and client of Rudy Giuliani. Graham also suggested to Stolyarov on the prank call that Trump would try to help within his limits of power to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on the Zarrab case.