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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Rubio sees WH 'messaging' ploy in Bergdahl deal

The deal that led to the release of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl had nothing to do with his health but was part of a “political ploy” by the White House, Sen. Marco Rubio has asserted in interviews during the past couple days.

“None of this was a coincidence,” the Florida Republican told Preston Scott of WFLA in Tallahassee on Wednesday.

“So (Obama) visits the troops on Monday, Memorial Day, in Afghanistan. Nothing wrong with that, that’s a proper thing for him to do. Then he comes back and gives his ‘The war is over’ speech in West Point. And then he tops it off with this prisoner swap. I think what he was anticipating was an messaging arc, a wink of arguing that this is the president that has a clear foreign policy, he’s bring the war in Afghanistan to an end, he got the last man out. He was expecting cheers for all of this. I think he miscalculated on the last point ... .”

Rubio repeated that in an interview with Mark Levin and again Thursday night on Fox News’ The Kelly File, saying it was a scheme to “reinvigorating the president’s image domestically as a great leader.”

Certainly the Bergdahl release has been a disaster for the White House, with Republicans and Democrats on Capitol Hill irked about the lack of notification (Rubio says Obama broke the law) and questioning the wisdom of giving up five Taliban soldiers.

White House officials are also telling reporters that secrecy was needed because the Taliban said it would kill Bergdahl if the swap became public.

We’ve asked the White House for a response to Rubio’s claims.

On Fox News last night Rubio was asked to respond to the channel’s reporting that at one point Bergdahl converted to Islam and declared himself a “mujahid.”

Rubio said that he had raised those questions but that classified information members of Congress were given “directly contradict” that claim. “Clearly if this happens to be true,” Rubio said of the Fox reporting, “we’ve got a very serious problem with the administration misleading members of congress."

[Last modified: Friday, June 6, 2014 10:53am]

    

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