Appearing on the Today show, NBC Chief White House Correspondent Chuck Todd told Matt Lauer on Wednesday that the White House was caught “flat-footed” by the backlash they have received over the Taliban prisoner swap for Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl:
Todd: Yes they were caught flat-footed. Every aide I talked to said that they expected there to be controversy involving the decision to release five members of the Taliban from Gitmo, and the fact that this would escalate that debate, which of course has been simmering for a good five years-which is what to do with those detainees. How do you release them, where do you release them. They did not expect this backlash on Bergdahl himself. I’ve had a few aides describe it to me that they didn’t know that they were going to “Swift Boat Bergdahl.”
Lauer was at a loss to understand how the White House could have bungled this so badly, knowing that Bergdahl was most likely a deserter, and about the existence of the emails that he wrote in which he said he was “ashamed to be an American and had lost faith in the military.”
Todd responded that the White House thought they had the support of Republicans, who wanted to get Bergdahl back, but he said that support quickly withered once the deal was announced, and it became clear that Congress had not been c0nsulted.
Even Obama’s loyal liberal supporters, like Chris Matthews, have criticized the swap, while CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin and George Washington law professor Jonathan Turley said that Obama broke the law by not consulting Congress before approving the exchange.
With all the fallout the White House is getting from this deal, they may be privately wishing that they could get the media to refocus on something else, such as the IRS scandal, Fast and Furious or Benghazi—scandals that they believe can be excused away much easier than the Bergdahl matter.