Trump celebrates return of American pastor
WASHINGTON>> President Donald Trump welcomed American pastor Andrew Brunson to the Oval Office on Saturday, celebrating his release from nearly two years of confinement in Turkey that had sparked a diplomatic row with a key ally and outcry from U.S. evangelical groups.
Brunson, who returned to the United States aboard a military jet shortly before their meeting, appeared to be in good health and good spirits. He thanked Trump for working to secure his freedom and then lead his family in prayer for the president. “You really fought for us,” he told Trump.
“From a Turkish prison to the White House in 24 hours, that’s not bad,” Trump said.
Administration officials cast Brunson’s release as vindication of Trump’s hardnosed negotiating, saying Turkey tried to set terms for Brunson’s release, but Trump was insistent on Brunson’s release without conditions. Trump maintained there was no deal for Brunson’s freedom, but the president dangled the prospect of better relations between the U.S. and its NATO ally.