WASHINGTON — Critics of President Donald Trump voiced outrage Monday night after an appearance he made during the Republican National Convention with six people who were released from custody in foreign countries with the help of the Trump administration.
During the segment, Trump told one of them, a pastor held in Turkey for two years, that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan “was very good.”
“Bringing hostages home safely is always a reason for great joy,” tweeted Jason Rezaian, the Washington Post journalist who was unjustly imprisoned by Iranian authorities for 544 days until his release in January 2016. “But using us for political gain is disgusting.”
One of Joe Biden’s grandchildren, Naomi Biden, tweeted, “Did the President just say that Erdogan seemed like a good guy?”
In the short video showing Trump sitting with the freed group of people at the White House, Trump said they were among more than 50 people who have been freed from 22 countries during his administration.
“We’re very proud of the job we did,” Trump told the group, noting that national security adviser Robert O’Brien had been involved in the negotiations.
Tommy Vietor, a former spokesman for the National Security Council under President Barack Obama and a co-host of Pod Save America, suggested on Twitter that Trump should explain why he wasn’t able to secure the release of some other American hostages.
“If Trump is going to take credit for helping release US hostages, he should also explain how he allowed an American citizen named Mustafa Kassem to die in an Egyptian prison,” he wrote.
Democratic strategist Adam Parkhomenko tweeted, “Trump is currently making each former hostage thank the dictator who took them hostage.”
And Tom Nichols, a senior adviser at the anti-Trump Lincoln Project and former GOP staffer in the Senate, tweeted, “This was a segment that was, ostensibly, about hostages being grateful for being released from countries, including Turkey.”