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Erdogan supporters hang an effigy of Gulen in the wake of the failed coup. Photo: Kursat Bayhan/Getty Images

Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said this week that President Trump has told Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan he'll "take a look at" potentially extraditing Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen — the man Erdogan claims organized a coup attempt against him in 2016. Gulen has lived in the U.S. for two decades.

Between the lines: Soner Cagaptay, a fellow at the Washington Institute and author of The New Sultan, says it's unlikely Trump would be able to extradite Gulen without a court decision. Instead, Cagaptay says Trump's rhetoric, combined with the FBI's investigation into Gulen's network, seem intended instead to send a signal that "Gulen has overstayed his welcome."

  • He thinks the idea is to nudge Gulen to a third country that doesn't have an extradition treaty with Turkey.
  • According to Cagaptay, Gulen gains a certain amount of legitimacy by being protected by the most powerful country on earth, and Turkey's most important ally. That equation changes if he ends up somewhere else.

Worth noting: Cagaptay says Gulen is more than just "Erdogan's enemy" — his network once had millions of followers. He says there is now a widespread consensus against Gulen in Turkey: "Half of the country that loves Erdogan thinks Gulen tried to kill him, and the other half of the country that hates Erdogan hates Gulen" for empowering him earlier in his political career.

Go deeper: Mueller probing Michael Flynn plot to kidnap Gulen

Go deeper

Scoop: Gina Haspel threatened to resign over plan to install Kash Patel as CIA deputy

CIA Director Gina Haspel. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

CIA Director Gina Haspel threatened to resign in early December after President Trump cooked up a hasty plan to install loyalist Kash Patel, a former aide to Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), as her deputy, according to three senior administration officials with direct knowledge of the matter.

Why it matters: The revelation stunned national security officials and almost blew up the leadership of the world's most powerful spy agency. Only a series of coincidences — and last minute interventions from Vice President Mike Pence and White House counsel Pat Cipollone — stopped it.

Updated 8 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: Coronavirus deaths reach 4,000 per day as hospitals remain in crisis mode — CDC warns highly transmissible coronavirus variant could become dominant in U.S. in March.
  2. Politics: Biden says, "We will manage the hell out of" vaccine distribution — Biden taps ex-FDA chief to lead Operation Warp Speed amid rollout of COVID plan — Widow of GOP congressman-elect who died of COVID-19 will run to fill his seat.
  3. Vaccine: Battling Black mistrust of the vaccines"Pharmacy deserts" could become vaccine deserts — Instacart to give $25 to shoppers who get vaccine.
  4. Economy: Unemployment filings explode againFed chair: No interest rate hike coming any time soon —  Inflation rose more than expected in December.
  5. World: WHO team arrives in China to investigate pandemic origins.

John Weaver, Lincoln Project co-founder, acknowledges “inappropriate” messages

John Weaver aboard John McCain's campaign plane in February 2000. Photo: Robert Schmidt/AFP via Getty Images)

John Weaver, a veteran Republican operative who co-founded the Lincoln Project, declared in a statement to Axios on Friday that he sent “inappropriate,” sexually charged messages to multiple men.

  • “To the men I made uncomfortable through my messages that I viewed as consensual mutual conversations at the time: I am truly sorry. They were inappropriate and it was because of my failings that this discomfort was brought on you,” Weaver said.
  • “The truth is that I'm gay,” he added. “And that I have a wife and two kids who I love. My inability to reconcile those two truths has led to this agonizing place.”