An outraged Donald Trump told WND in an interview that the U.S. could have won freedom for Iranian-born, American pastor Saeed Abedini if only President Obama’s team would have requested it in nuclear negotiations with Tehran.
“It’s an outrageous situation, and I think President Obama, just for the asking, could have gotten the Christian pastor released from this horrific prison he’s enduring right now,” said Trump, who also told WND he wouldn’t rule out a run for political office.
Abedini, 33, was sentenced to eight years in prison in January for his Christian ministry of establishing home churches in Iran. Tehran charged him with attempting to undermine the government and endangering national security by persuading youth to leave Islam.
“I’m hearing it’s a tortuous prison and not a good situation, and it’s not good at all. It’s very unfair,” Trump told WND.
Abedini endured numerous brutal beatings in Iran’s notorious Evin Prison. Last month, he was transferred from Tehran to the Rajai Shahr prison for hard-core criminals, where he is said to be facing life-threatening conditions.
The billionaire real estate entrepreneur and reality TV star said the Obama administration failed in its negotiating strategy.
“You don’t get anything unless you ask,” he said. “And I don’t think they even asked. Secretary of State Kerry, had he asked, as a sign of good faith, to release the pastor, they would have done it.”
Trump noted the strong criticism in the U.S. of the six-month, preliminary nuclear deal with Iran and suggested an agreement to release Abedini would have softened the opposition.
Trump said the entire arrangement with Iran was “terrible,” arguing that eliminating sanctions before signing a permanent agreement removes incentive to comply.
“Whoever heard of a thing like this? Either make a deal or don’t make a deal,” he said.
“Once you take off the sanctions, you’re right now, every day, emboldening them and making it harder to negotiate,” said Trump. “They could have made the deal and not made it subject to six months. It’s ridiculous.”
Won’t rule out run for office
Trump, who in 2011 considered running for the Republican nomination for president when he polled as a front-runner, didn’t rule out a future bid for political office.
“It’s too early to say. The country’s in trouble, and we have some important elections coming up next year. I’ll make a decision after that,” he told WND. “But it’s very sad what’s going on with the country.”
He said his decision also will be dependent on how well the country is doing at the time.
“I don’t expect it to be doing great, because to be doing great you need great leadership, and we don’t have great leadership,” Trump said.
Foreign policy ‘disaster’
Trump believes the Iran agreement is symbolic of Obama’s foreign policy, which he called a “disaster.”
“We’re not a respected country any longer. You look at what’s happening in Syria; you look at the disaster of Iraq. We went into Iraq, and it’s a total catastrophe. Iraq is falling apart,” Trump said.
“You look at what’s going on in Afghanistan where Karzai is treating us like we’re a bunch of babies. We thought we had a deal, and now he wants more and more. We shouldn’t be there in the first place,” he said.
Trump is equally adamant regarding Obama’s economic policies, saying the U.S. has “lost the magic.”
“Despite the numbers released, we have a very high unemployment rate. We have a real unemployment rate of anywhere between 13 to 16 percent,” he said. “The country is not competitive with many other countries anymore.”
Jobs are being lost to China and other countries, he noted.
His remedy for restoring the “magic” is leadership.
“You don’t want to go so far in the hole where it gets harder and harder to restore, and that’s what’s happening,” he said. “But proper leadership can restore this country to greatness again.”
Regarding Obamacare, Trump said the president “is in over his head” and was able to pass the health care act only because he promised Americans they could keep their insurance plans and doctors if they wished.
“He said it many, many times, and he knew it was false,” Trump said. “He got Obamacare passed because of those statements, which were lies.”
Trump said “there are a lot of things that are turning out to be lies,” including the White House’s backtrack on whether Obama had ever met his illegal-alien uncle.