Bolton says "ISIS bride" seeking return to U.S. needs to show evidence of citizenship

Bolton on "ISIS bride" Hoda Muthana

White House national security adviser John Bolton said on "Face the Nation" Sunday that Hoda Muthana, who was born in New Jersey and left the U.S. to marry an ISIS fighter in Syria, needs to provide evidence of U.S. citizenship in her ongoing efforts to return home. The State Department has said Muthana is not a U.S. citizen and won't be allowed back in the country.


MARGARET BRENNAN: I want to ask you on another topic about this American, Hoda Muthana, an ISIS bride, born in New Jersey, living in Alabama before she went to live within the Caliphate. She told CBS that she is a U.S. citizen, that she traveled to Syria on an American passport. Why not have her face the consequences of her actions in a U.S. court?

AMBASSADOR BOLTON: My understanding is that she is not a U.S. citizen. That's the take of the State Department at this point.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, they issued her passport.

AMBASSADOR BOLTON: You know, look, all I can say is, what I've been informed and that's the position we take. But you know, just as a general proposition, Americans can renounce their citizenship by their words and by their actions aligning with foreign powers. I think you have to look at each case on its own. And if she's got evidence of citizenship, she needs to present it. We'll take a look it.

MARGARET BRENNAN: But doesn't this get to this broader challenge for the administration of what to do with these members of ISIS who had her citizenship revoked by their host countries? Where do they go to face trial? I mean, if the claim here is that she's not American but truly Yemeni, you're not going to send her to Yemen. Where does she actually face justice?

AMBASSADOR BOLTON: Certainly the situation of the 800 to 1,000 ISIS prisoners that are being held by the Syrian opposition in northeast Syria is very much on our mind. We've spoken to our European allies about some of them taking their citizens back. We're looking at what to do with the rest of them. It's one reason frankly we'd like to successfully negotiate the status of northeast Syria so that the prisoners for the foreseeable future can stay exactly in the prison facilities there and now.

MARGARET BRENNAN: But you might bring some of them to United States to face trial.

AMBASSADOR BOLTON: It's a possibility but we're not eager to have simply pick up that responsibility we think others have the responsibility too, and that's the approach we're taking.