The Washington Post

Hillary Clinton defends Obama on Bergdahl, says ‘it doesn’t matter’ how he was captured

Hillary Clinton talks with ABC News anchor Diane Sawyer. (Martin H. Simon/ABC)

Hillary Rodham Clinton defended President Obama's decision to trade five Taliban prisoners being held at Guantanamo Bay for U.S. soldier Bowe Bergdahl, adding that "it doesn't matter" how Bergdahl fell into Taliban hands.

In her first television interview on her promotional book tour, Clinton, a former secretary of state and potential 2016 presidential candidate, told ABC News anchor Diane Sawyer that Bergdahl should have been rescued regardless of the circumstances surrounding his captivity.

"If you look at what the factors were going into the decision, of course there are competing interests and values," Clinton told Sawyer. "And one of our values is we bring everybody home off the battlefield the best we can. It doesn't matter how they ended up in a prisoner of war situation.”

As part of her media blitz to promote her forthcoming memoir, "Hard Choices," Clinton sat down with Sawyer at Clinton's Washington home Thursday. The interview will air in a one-hour primetime special on ABC next Monday at 9 p.m., although the network released Clinton's Bergdahl comments Friday evening.

When Sawyer asked Clinton whether she thought Obama had made “a deal with the devil” by releasing Taliban detainees in exchange for Bergdahl, Clinton responded, “I think this was a very hard choice, which is why I think my book is aptly named."

The Obama administration has come under fire this week from Republicans and other critics who allege that the government gave up too much to rescue Bergdahl. Critics also have raised questions about Bergdahl's loyalty and whether he had purposely deserted his post, resulting in his capture.

Sawyer asked Clinton, "It doesn't matter?"

“It doesn’t matter,” Clinton replied. “We bring our people home.”

In her memoir, Clinton writes about early discussions within the Obama administration over rescuing Bergdahl. She writes that in every discussion, she and other administration officials "demanded" Bergdahl's release, according to CBS News, which obtained an early copy of Clinton's book.

But, Clinton adds in the book, "I acknowledged, as I had many times before, that opening the door to negotiations with the Taliban would be hard to swallow for many Americans after so many years of war."

Philip Rucker is a national political correspondent for The Washington Post, where he has reported since 2005.



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