President Barack Obama did not appreciate the question at his Wednesday press conference from Major Garrett, CBS News’ chief White House correspondent.
Garrett bluntly asked Obama why the US government wasn’t more focused on the Americans being held against their will in Iran.
“Can you tell the country, sir, why you are content, with all the fanfare around this deal, to leave the conscience of this nation, the strength of this nation, unaccounted for in relationship to these four Americans?” he inquired.
Obama appeared taken aback.
“I’ve got to give you credit, Major, for how you crafted those questions. The notion that I am ‘content’ as I ‘celebrate’ with American citizens languishing in Iranian jails?” Obama asked.
He paused to come up with his next words.
“Major, that’s nonsense and you should know better,” he added. “I’ve met with the families of some of those folks. Nobody’s content.”
Obama held the press conference to defend the US and world partners’ deal with Iran that aims to curb its ability to produce nuclear weapons. Some critics argue that the deal should have been a non-starter as long as Americans — including Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian — are imprisoned in Iran.
The president pushed back against that argument as well.
“If the question is why we did not tie the negotiations to their release, think about the logic that that creates. Suddenly Iran realises, ‘You know what, maybe we can get additional concessions out of the Americans by holding these individuals,'” Obama said. “It makes it much more difficult for us to walk away.”
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