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FACT CHECK: Democrats ‘Can’t Negotiate’ With Hostage-Takers

Claim“You can’t negotiate with people who take hostages.” 

Who said it:

Ron Klain, the soon-to-be-former White House chief of staff, according to a senior congressional Democrat who spoke to the Washington Post about the Biden administration’s approach to negotiating with Republicans over debt and spending cuts.

“This debate is simple: We want to do the responsible thing, and they want to take the entire American economy hostage to cut Social Security and Medicare,” said the member of Congress, speaking on the condition of anonymity to reflect private conversations. Klain told the lawmaker that the fight could result in substantial political benefits for the Democratic Party. “The point he was making was clear: You can’t negotiate with people who take hostages.”

Why it matters:

Given the rapid deterioration of President Joe Biden’s cognitive and physical health, Klain is arguably the most powerful man in the world. Mainstream journalists have a moral duty to fact-check his statements, but they’re only interested in speaking truth to power when Republicans are in charge. That’s why the Washington Free Beacon exists.


Klain’s successor, former Bain consultant Jeff Zients, oversaw the Biden administration’s COVID-19 response from January 2021 to April 2022. More than 570,000 Americans died on his watch.


The assertion that Democrats “can’t negotiate with people who take hostages” is contradicted by the evidence.

Last month, for example, the Biden administration negotiated with Russian dictator Vladimir Putin for the release of Brittany Griner, a WNBA player caught in the act of drug smuggling. In exchange for Griner, the United States agreed to release Viktor Bout, a.k.a. “the Merchant of Death,” a reviled arms dealer convicted of plotting to murder American citizens. Paul Whelan, a former Marine detained in Russia on bogus charges since 2018, remains in Putin’s custody.

President Biden and his Democratic predecessor, Barack Obama, willingly negotiated with the government of Iran, one of the most notorious hostage-takers in modern history. In 2016, the Obama administration sent a plane filled with $400 million in cash to Iran on the same day the terrorist regime released four American captives. Obama also negotiated with the communist regime in Cuba, securing the release of American hostage Alan Gross as part of a controversial deal to lift economic sanctions on the rogue island nation.

To our knowledge, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R., Calif.) has never taken an American citizen hostage to extract concessions from the U.S. government.

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