Pastor Brunson Meets with Trump at White House


by Sharon Rondeau

(Oct. 13, 2018) — At 2:42 p.m.. EDT, Fox News aired video of the much-anticipated meeting between President Trump and Pastor Andrew Brunson, who was released from a two-year imprisonment in Turkey just 24 hours ago.

“We do not pay ransom in this country, at least any longer,” Trump told the group assembled in the Oval Office, which included Brunson’s wife Norine, two sons and a daughter; National Security Adviser John Bolton, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, a number of congressmen and others celebrating Brunson’s return to the U.S.

Trump’s remark referenced the fact that the Obama regime paid ransom to Iran for five hostages released in January 2016.  He also said that by his count, his administration has obtained the freedom of 19 Americans being held by various countries.

Trump also expressed his gratitude to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for Brunson’s release.

Brunson, whose American home is in North Carolina, lived in Turkey with his family for approximately a quarter-century while leading a small Christian church.  In October 2016, Brunson and his wife were arrested for allegedly participating in terrorism against the Turkish government, which was the object of an unsuccessful coup attempt.  His wife was released within days, but Brunson was held in prison until July, when U.S. efforts succeeded in Turkish authorities’ releasing him to house arrest.

Over the last 9+ years, Turkey has been less tolerant of religious activity outside of Islam and has jailed journalists.

After Brunson was first jailed, Erdogan offered to swap him for Fethullah Gulen, who Erdogan believes was behind the coup attempt and resides in Pennsylvania.

When Trump asked Brunson to speak, Brunson thanked U.S. Senators from both parties who visited him while he was incarcerated as well as the Trump administration and specific departments for their efforts on his behalf.

“If there was ever a bipartisan event, this was it,” Trump said after Brunson’s brief remarks.

“We are so honored to have you,” Trump told Brunson.

Brunson and his wife then said a prayer for Trump, with Brunson kneeling and placing his left hand on Trump’s shoulder.

A reporter from the gaggle present in the room asked Brunson his plans for the future, in response to which Brunson said he will be giving interviews and seeking God’s guidance as to the next chapter of his life.

Trump then spoke impromptu about American prisoners around the world, including in Istanbul and the missing Saudi journalist and commentator, Jamal Khashoggi, who disappeared inside the Saudi consulate in Turkey on October 2.

Khashoggi, who has been critical of the Saudi government and began publishing columns in The Washington Post last month, had left Saudi Arabia for Turkey and entered the Saudi consulate to obtain documents necessary to marry his fiancée, never to re-emerge.

Today is Khashoggi’s 60th birthday if he is still alive, although Trump indicated during his remarks to reporters that his administration may fear the worst.

After taking questions for about 25 minutes, Trump ended the ad hoc presser, shook hands with Brunson’s family and then thanked members of his administration who worked to free the pastor.

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