The White House is looking for ways to remove an enemy of Turkish President Recep Erdogan from the U.S. in order to placate Turkey over the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, two senior U.S. officials and two other people briefed on the requests told NBC News.
Trump administration officials last month asked federal law enforcement agencies to examine legal ways of removing exiled Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen in an attempt to persuade Erdogan to ease pressure on the Saudi government, the four sources said. Gulen has been living in Pennsylvania since the late 1990s.
Career officials at the agencies pushed back on the White House requests, the U.S. officials and people briefed on the requests said.
"At first there were eye rolls, but once they realized it was a serious request, the career guys were furious," said a senior U.S. official involved in the process.
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The FBI and a spokesman for the National Security Council declined to comment, as did a lawyer for Gulen. The departments of state, justice and homeland security did not respond to requests for comment.