MYRTLE BEACH, S.C — Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump is claiming part of the credit for Iran’s release of four American prisoners, even as he lambasts the way the deal was done.
“I’ve been hitting them hard,” Trump said during his speech Saturday to the South Carolina Tea Party Coalition Convention, speaking of the Obama administration’s failure to force Iran to release four dual American-Iranian citizens the Islamic Republic had imprisoned until now. “And I think I might have had something to do with it, if you want to know the truth. Who’s using it? It’s a part of my staple thing. I mean, I go crazy when I hear about this.”
Trump has regularly hit President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry on the stump for their failure to secure the release of the prisoners as part of the Iran nuclear deal.
“You go absolutely wild because how is it possible? We have one who is in there who is a reporter for the Washington Post. He didn’t do anything wrong by the way,” Trump said, speaking of reporter Jason Rezaian. “But you have a person who is in there because he is a minister, he is a Christian minister. He’s a pastor. And you have people that didn’t deserve to be there. They have one of the worst prisons in the world. And we had to do something. And so I would always talk about it.”
It was announced Saturday that the United States secured from Iran the release of the four Americans, who had been held by the Islamic Republic on charges of espionage. The U.S. has long maintained that the charges were “absurd.” In return for the prisoners, the U.S reportedly agreed to release seven Iranians held by the U.S. for violating American sanctions against Iran, as well as drop charges against 14 others.
Though he claimed some credit for the release of the American prisoners, Trump was also highly critical of the way the release came about. (RELATED: Who Are The Seven Iranians Released In Exchange For The US Prisoners?)
“We give them $150 billion. We give them essentially 22 people – 21, 22 people,” Trump said, referring to what Iran gets from both the prisoner exchange and the Iran nuclear deal. “These are people who really did have problems. And we are getting back four people that didn’t do anything wrong. That’s the way we negotiate. That’s the way we negotiate. It’s so sad. It’s so sad.”
During his run for president, Trump has claimed credit for many things besides the release of the American prisoners, including making illegal immigration an issue and coming up with the idea of putting a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border.