Tom Cotton, an Iraq War veteran and GOP Senate candidate in Arkansas, harshly criticized the Obama administration for its handling of the Bowe Bergdahl prisoner swap on an Arkansas-based radio podcast Tuesday morning, calling it a “grievous error” from the president that puts American troops at risk.
“There is now a price on the head of American hostages, and Barack Obama has helped put that price there by breaking with a decadelong bipartisan consensus,” Cotton told host J.R. Davis.
“Even if Bowe Bergdahl had been captured heroically on the battlefield, it would still be bad policy, because now it increases the danger that all 32,000 American troops in Afghanistan face, or for that matter our aid workers or our diplomats there or any American traveling around the world on business or tourism,” Cotton continued.
Cotton, citing media reports that Bergdahl was a deserter, suggested that the president and National Security Adviser Susan Rice may have covered up details about the swap. “The president and his senior leadership needs to account for what they knew about the circumstances about Bowe Bergdahl’s disappearance and when they knew it. And whether they tried to cover it up from the American people to sell the grievous mistake of this prisoner swap.”
Asked what he would do in Obama’s position, Cotton said: “I wouldn’t have traded five senior Taliban commanders for any POW. I would have continued to use intelligence resources and special operations units to try to retrieve Bowe Bergdahl, or any POW for that matter. But I would not release senior hardened Taliban commanders. These are not goat herders or foot soldiers. These are the equivalent of their secretary of Defense or their CIA director. They are going to go back in the battlefield. That is going to happen. And they’re going to help kill Americans in the future.”
Cotton is one of the GOP’s leading Senate recruits in 2014, with his biography playing a major part in his campaign as he challenges Democratic Sen. Mark Pryor. Cotton is a favorite among Republican hawks who advocate for a more assertive American role overseas.
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In a sign that she’s ready to put a longer-than-expected primary battle behind her, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (D) is no longer going on the air in upcoming primary states. “Team Clinton hasn’t spent a single cent in … California, Indiana, Kentucky, Oregon and West Virginia, while” Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-VT) “campaign has spent a little more than $1 million in those same states.” Meanwhile, Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Sanders’ "lone backer in the Senate, said the candidate should end his presidential campaign if he’s losing to Hillary Clinton after the primary season concludes in June, breaking sharply with the candidate who is vowing to take his insurgent bid to the party convention in Philadelphia.”
The team behind the bestselling "Clinton Cash"—author Peter Schweizer and Breitbart's Stephen Bannon—is turning the book into a movie that will have its U.S. premiere just before the Democratic National Convention this summer. The film will get its global debut "next month in Cannes, France, during the Cannes Film Festival. (The movie is not a part of the festival, but will be shown at a screening arranged for distributors)." Bloomberg has a trailer up, pointing out that it's "less Ken Burns than Jerry Bruckheimer, featuring blood-drenched money, radical madrassas, and ominous footage of the Clintons."
Conrad Burns, the colorful livestock auctioneer and radio executive from Montana who served three terms as a senator, died on Thursday at age 81. Burns "was ousted from office in 2006 under the specter of scandal after developing close ties to "super-lobbyist" Jack Abramoff," although no charges were ever filed.
In an exchange not ripped from the page of The Onion, Vice President Biden revealed to a Vatican cardinal that he's been betting reporters on which cars are faster. After meeting privately with Pope Francis, Biden met with Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican Secretary of State. Within moments of greeting one another, Biden said that he'd met with the pope and, gesturing to the press pool, "I've met with these guys too." Singling out reporter Gardiner Harris, who recounted the exchange, he said, "I had to pay this man $10. He's from the New York Times. We had a bet: which is the faster car, the newer Cadillac or the new [Tesla]. ... The Tesla's two tenths of a second faster. But I lost. I paid my $10." He joked that he's "seeking absolution."
Donald Trump held his first rally in California Thursday night, and things were chaotic: "Hundreds of demonstrators filled the street outside the Orange County amphitheater where ... stomping on cars, hurling rocks at motorists and forcefully declaring their opposition to the Republican presidential candidate. Traffic came to a halt as a boisterous crowd walked in the roadway, some waving American and Mexican flags. Protesters smashed a window on at least one police cruiser, punctured the tires of a police sport utility vehicle, and at one point tried to flip a police car."