Just hours after the White House confirmed the release of four Americans in Iran in a prisoner swap with the country, Republican presidential candidate and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio slammed the deal, saying it only encourages enemy nations.
"It proves once again now that nations and enemies of America around the world know there's a price for Americans," Rubio said in an interview with CBS' "Face the Nation" scheduled to air Sunday. "If you take an American hostage, Barack Obama will cut a deal with you, whether it's Bergdahl, what he did with the Castro brothers and now what he's done with Iran."
On Saturday, U.S. officials announced the deal releasing four Americans, including Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian. In return, the White House promised to pardon seven Iranians who were accused of violating U.S. sanctions against the Middle East power. Matthew Trevithick, a fifth American, was released separately from the deal.
The Florida senator criticized the exchange, saying the Americans were "not prisoners" but hostages.
"None of them had violated any real laws. And in fact some of them weren't even charged," Rubio said. "One of them was a reporter. The other one was a pastor. They'd done nothing."
In contrast, Rubio said, the people the administration intends to grant clemency to "were convicted in a court of law after due process of helping violate sanctions."
Rubio pointed to Robert Levinson, a former FBI agent who has been missing since 2007, as a reason to remain suspicious of Iranians. According to a U.S. official, Iran has committed to continue cooperating with the United States to try and determine Levinson's whereabouts.
"Bob Levinson is still missing," Rubio said. "The Iranians know where he is, or we believe they do. And they're not being cooperative about that. We should not forget Mr. Levinson and his situation."
To see more of our interview with Rubio, make sure you tune into this Sunday's broadcast. Check your local listings for airtimes.