White House briefs Congress on the Taliban deal

Senator Rob Portman and Senator Jeff Sessions react to congressional briefing on deal with the Taliban


This is a RUSH transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," June 5, 2014. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

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O'REILLY: "Personal Story" segment tonight. Last night on Capitol Hill the Obama administration held a briefing for members of Congress on the Taliban deal leading the Obama delegation was Admiral James Winthal the vice chair of the Joint Chief of Staff.

Joining us now from Washington is Senator Jeff Sessions from Alabama and from Cincinnati Senator Rob Portman from Ohio both are Republicans. Democratic senators would not make themselves available this evening which is very interesting.

So Senator Portman I'll begin with you the briefing was classified which means that if you tell us what was said they put you in jail, right they put you in prison, they arrest you -- is that right?

SEN. ROB PORTMAN (R), OHIO: Yes Bill I don't want to talk about what we said in the briefing because it is classified. But it's easy because I can tell you what wasn't said which is that they did not provided justification for ignoring the law. And the law was very clear. It said the President had to notify Congress. And it's not about the notification it's the fact that he had to provide a specific detailed explanation as to why these five highly dangerous guys were let loose and what the conditions were for their release, how are they going to be monitored.

They didn't do that. They didn't do it because they didn't want to get an answer from Members of Congress, from the Republicans, and the Senate.

O'REILLY: But you know as well as I do, Senator Portman, that they're going to point to wording in the new law that says the president has the discretion in an emergency situation. And they're going to say this was that.

But we'll get back to that in a moment.

PORTMAN: There was no discretion in that law, Bill. That law was very clear.

It required them to provide a detailed justification of the actions --

O'REILLY: I'm just saying what they are going to say.

PORTMAN: No exceptions.

O'REILLY: You know, they're litigated right off. And by the time it gets decided, he'll be on the lectures tour, his term will be over. Now, Senator Sessions, will you --

PORTMAN: But that's why there's the need to have a resolution passed by the Senate saying that, one, it was illegal, what he did. And, two, we need to get to the bottom of it, so he won't do it again.

O'REILLY: All right. Well, good luck on that. Senator Sessions, what were your impressions when you came out of that briefing.

JEFF SESSIONS, SENATOR, ALABAMA (R): I felt very uneasy about it. As Rob said, we looked for a rationale. We hoped to get a rationale for what seemed to be an implausible circumstance and we did not get it.

I would know, Bill, the delayed briefer was Tony Blinken who's a deputy to Susan Rice. That's the National Security Advisor to the President.

I'm very uneasy about the kind of advice he's been giving. And I think he, ultimately, is responsible for who his top advisors are.

But I didn't feel it was a credible briefing. And I didn't feel good about it. I know virtually nothing more today than I knew from the media.

O'REILLY: Does it disturb you that the Vice Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Admiral was sitting there and throwing his weight, his prestige behind the Obama administration.

Because that gives me flaws. I mean, it looks like the Pentagon is on board with it.

SESSIONS: Well, they indicated they had the top -- one of the top civilian Defense Department officials. And, so, -- but it was primarily, I think, more of a civilian political appointee briefing for the most part.

O'REILLY: All right. Now, Senator Portman, you know, Harry Reid and the crew -- you know, across the aisle from you, they're not going to go along with you trying to pin the Obama administration down with something illegal.

You know you're going in for a big fight on that.

PORTMAN: Well, they should because, otherwise, the president is going to overreach again, I fear. You know, Susan Rice and her Sunday show performance said a couple of things that were unusual.

One was that, you know, the soldier had served with honor and distinction before there is any army investigation, which is now, hopefully, going to occur.

But, second, she said, when pressed about why they released these folks, "Well, you know, we don't want Guantanamo to continue anyway." In other words, we want to release everybody, in essence.

O'REILLY: Well, I know. That's terrible. But, look, you know there has -- you guys both know --

PORTMAN: So, you've got to be sure that they don't continue to do this. That's why getting the Senate on record is very important to say, "This is law is clear. This is a violation of the law. We can't have this again. There has to be a justification, a detailed explanation."

And we have to know what the conditions of their release are going to be to ensure that they're not going to go back into the battlefield and have more American blood on their hands.

O'REILLY: All right. Well, it'll be interesting to see how the Senate meets that.

Now, Senator Sessions, you know that there has been an investigation on this guy. And it's classified.

Now, can you do anything to get it unclassified because no reason to keep it secret now that he's back in American hands. I hope to see that investigation.

SESSIONS: I think we've got to have that. Look, we owe it to the men and women who were are combat, in harm's way, sent there by the Commander- in-Chief, the President, to be sure that this individual is held accountable if he did things wrong.

And I believe that needs to be public and will be done eventually. But it certainly is a critical component of what we do to make sure that this president and Congress do not breach, break faith with those fabulous soldiers who are placing their lives at risk today.

And to turn loose five top terrorists who were caught by brave men and women probably losing many lives at the same time trying to catch them would be a -- is a very unhappy --

O'REILLY: Yes, but we need to know. You know, we need to know. I agree with both of you gentlemen. We need to know everything about this thing.

Senators, we appreciate it.

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