The Trump administration has helped free and bring home Pastor Andrew Brunson, who was detained in Turkey for more than two years.
The preacher’s release is considered to be a “big win” for the current administration, which perhaps explains why President Donald Trump was interested in knowing who Brunson voted for in the election.
After Brunson and his wife offered prayers for the president and his administration in the Oval Office, Trump decided to ask a curious question.
“Can I ask you one question?” Trump asked, according to CNN. “Who did you vote for?”
Vox said that it was not clear if the President was addressing Brunson, or his wife Norine, or both, but amid the laughter from the crowd, the pastor assured Trump that he sent in an absentee ballot from Turkey voting for him.
“I knew the answer, I would never do that to myself — that could be too tough,” Trump said.
The President’s question, nonetheless prompted some reactions from social media media users.
“Jesus, take the wheel,” Holly Figueroa O’Reilly, founder of Blue Wave Crowdsource organization, which supports Democratic candidates, commented on Twitter. “Even if Trump wasn’t directing that question to him, it’s still a f’ing tacky question to ask.”
Brunson, who had been detained in Turkey since 2016, was accused of helping to plot a coup attempt against Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. U.S. officials, however, said that the pastor was wrongfully detained in the country.
Brunson’s case caused a strain between the two countries, which are allies in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).
A Turkish court sentenced Brunson to three years in jail on Friday but freed him because of the time he had already spent in detention. The court also dropped the espionage charges against him, according to BBC.
Henri Barkey, professor of international relations at Lehigh University, wrote in an article published by Time that the pastor was actually discharged to remove one of the irritants in the Turkish-American relationship that could undermine the Turkish lira and exacerbate an inflation.
Trump acknowledged that the United States and Turkey had a very harsh relationship over many months, but expressed optimism that Brunson’s release marks a step towards a great relationship between the United States and Turkey.
Trump nonetheless said that no deal was made with Turkey for the release of the detainee. The President said on Twitter that he does not make deals for hostages.