Republican candidate Dr. Mehmet Oz announced Wednesday he will give up his Turkish citizenship if elected to the U.S. Senate.
Oz stepped into political quicksand this week when he said he would keep his dual citizenship as both Turkish and American if elected, even if that meant giving up access to classified briefings.
On Wednesday afternoon, Republican candidate Dave McCormick held a press call with Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska) calling out Oz on his position. Less than an hour later, the celebrity doctor reversed course.
“My dual citizenship has become a distraction in this campaign. I maintained it to care for my ailing mother, but after several weeks of discussions with my family, I’m committing that before I am sworn in as the next U.S. Senator for Pennsylvania I will only be a U.S. citizen,” Oz said.
“The bigoted attacks my opponent, Dave McCormick, has made against me as the child of immigrants is reminiscent of slurs made in the past about Catholics and Jews,” said Oz. “It is a sign of McCormick’s desperate campaign that he has resorted to this disgraceful tactic. It is completely disqualifying behavior for anyone aiming to serve in the United States Senate.”
During the Wednesday press call, Sullivan told reporters top-secret intelligence reports are vital to doing his job as a senator.
Sullivan, who is also a member of the Marine Corps Reserve, said he was “quite shocked” when he learned Oz had said he would keep his Turkish citizenship and do without the intelligence reports.
“So this is a huge part of the job. It’s actually a constitutional part of the job in terms of our focus in the Senate, national security issues, much more so than the House. And from my perspective…it’s just inconceivable that you would make a decision that somehow would limit your access to this kind of intelligence that you need to do the job. My view is you need full access to all the intel that the different intelligence agencies provide us senators, to do the job effectively.”
It is more important now than ever “given the Ukraine situation,” and that the senators have been given security briefing repeatedly in the past few weeks since Russia invaded that Eastern European country, he said. And senators are privy to the top-secret information whether they are on the Armed Services or Foreign Relations committees, or not.
Asked by the Delaware Valley Journal why Oz keeping his Turkish citizenship would make a difference given that Turkey is a NATO ally, Sullivan said it makes “a big difference.”
Even the other members of so-called Five Eyes-the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand—do not see everything the senators are privy to, Sullivan noted.
“There’s a whole class of intel and it’s usually at the top-secret level that’s called “non-foreign” that “we don’t share with foreigners from any country, including Five Eyes countries,” said Sullivan.
Another reporter asked why Oz would have to renounce his dual citizenship to receive classified intelligence information. Sullivan said the issue has never been tested.
Meanwhile, McCormick responded to Oz’s remarks about him via Twitter, taunting Oz to give up his Turkish citizenship immediately: “Do it now. Voters can’t trust Mehmet Oz. He has lied about his position on abortion, the 2nd Amendment, immigration, masks, and Fauci to name a few. Renounce your Turkish citizenship now. We won’t be fooled again.”