U.S. President Donald Trump speaks to members of the media before boarding Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington. (Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg)

Trump Calls Turkey a ‘Problem,’ Says Detained Pastor Isn't a Spy

(Bloomberg) -- President Donald Trump attacked Turkey again on Friday, saying the NATO ally isn’t a friend to the U.S. and had made up espionage charges against an American pastor detained in the country.

“Turkey’s been a problem for a long time,” Trump told reporters as he departed the White House on Friday for a fundraiser in New York. “They have not acted as a friend. We’ll see what happens.”

Hours later, Turkey’s credit rating was cut further into junk Friday by S&P Global Ratings and Moody’s Investors Service, which said the volatile lira and a sharp balance of payments adjustment may undermine the Middle East’s largest economy.

Relations between Turkey and the U.S. are at a nadir over the detention of Andrew Brunson, an American pastor that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government accuses of being involved in an attempted coup in 2016. Trump has demanded Brunson’s release and has sanctioned Turkish officials and increased tariffs on the country’s steel and aluminum in retaliation. Erdogan has in turn slapped sanctions on U.S. goods.

A Turkish appeals court refused to release Brunson on Friday. Turkey’s lira ended a three-day rally and slid as much as 8 percent on Friday.

“They made up this phony charge that he’s a spy,” Trump said. “He’s not a spy. He’s going through a trial right now, if you call it a trial. They should have given him back a long time ago.

“And Turkey has in my opinion acted very, very badly,” he added. “They can’t take our people.”

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