Andrew Brunson (R) escorted by plainclothes police to his home, where he remains under house arrest. Photo: AFP/Getty Images

The White House has rejected Turkey's attempt to link a U.S. investigation into Halkbank, a state-owned Turkish bank accused of helping Iran skirt sanctions, with the release of American pastor Andrew Brunson, the Wall Street Journal's Michael Bender reports, citing a senior White House official.

Between the lines: President Trump thought he already had a deal last month to secure the release of Brunson, who faces dubious terrorism charges in Turkey, and was infuriated when the pastor was instead moved to house arrest. Trump is now demanding Brunson's immediate release from Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, refusing to tie his detention to any other issues.

  • Rather than release Brunson last month, Erdogan attempted to use him as leverage to reduce the punishment on Halkbank and discourage further investigation of the bank by the Treasury Department. His government seemed stunned by Trump's infuriated response.
  • "Political ties will remain tense until Erdogan finds a way to release Brunson and sell it in Turkey," says Soner Cagaptay of The Washington Institute for Near East Policy. "Erdogan didn’t want this crisis with Trump, but now he’s looking at how he can intertwine it with the other crises he faces," Cagaptay added. Most notably, Erdogan is blaming Turkey's economic meltdown on U.S. sanctions, despite having largely caused it with his own economic policies.
  • The standoff has led to fears that relations between the U.S. and Turkey, a NATO ally, could break down entirely.

Go deeper: How U.S.-Turkey relations reached a breaking point.

Go deeper

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China-Iran deal envisions massive investments from Beijing

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

China and Iran have negotiated a deal that would see massive investments flow into Iran, oil flow out, and collaboration increase on defense and intelligence.

Why it matters: If the proposals become reality, Chinese cash, telecom infrastructure, railways and ports could offer new life to Iran’s sanctions-choked economy — or, critics fear, leave it inescapably beholden to Beijing.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 7 p.m. ET: 13,048,249 — Total deaths: 571,685 — Total recoveries — 7,215,865Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 7 p.m. ET: 3,353,348— Total deaths: 135,524 — Total recoveries: 1,031,856 — Total tested: 40,282,176Map.
  3. World: WHO head: There will be no return to the "old normal" for foreseeable future — Hong Kong Disneyland closing due to surge.
  4. States: Houston mayor calls for two-week shutdownCalifornia orders sweeping rollback of open businesses — Cuomo says New York will use formula to determine if reopening schools is safe.
  5. Education: Los Angeles schools' move to online learning could be a nationwide tipping point.

House Judiciary Committee releases transcript of Geoffrey Berman testimony

Geoffrey Berman. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

The House Judiciary Committee on Monday released the transcript of its closed-door interview with Geoffrey Berman, the former top federal prosecutor in Manhattan who was forced out by Attorney General Bill Barr last month.

Why it matters: House Democrats have seized on Berman's testimony, in which he claimed the attorney general sought to "entice" him into resigning so that he could be replaced by SEC chairman Jay Clayton, to bolster allegations that the Justice Department has been politicized under Barr.