By CNN's Lindsay Perna
Kate Bolduan’s interview with Senator Angus King on "New Day" gives new insight as to why the White House made the deal to trade Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl for five Taliban leaders detained at Guantanamo Bay.
PROOF OF PURCHASE: For the first time, White House officials showed senators a “proof of life” video they said justified the exchange. Sen. Angus King, who attended the closed-door meeting, characterized Bergdahl as looking “terrible,” saying the soldier “could barely talk. He couldn't focus his eyes. He was downcast. He was thin.” Most notably, King detailed the dead silence in the room after the 30-second video played, challenging those who say Bergdahl wasn’t as sick as had been let on.
LIFE ON THE LINE: King says he understands the urgency behind the administration’s action - its concern that if Congress was notified sooner, leaks might have spoiled the agreement and resulted in Bergdahl’s death. “There was a reasonable chance Bowe Bergdahl would have been killed and that was one of the pieces of information that we learned yesterday that gave it some credence in terms of why it had to be kept quiet so long,” King said.
Still, King says it was a mistake not to inform at least limited members of the intelligence committee.
NO GUARANTEE: But, when asked as to whether officials assured the five detainees wouldn’t return to the fight – King says, “There was no such guarantee… the intelligence people explicitly said that is a risk. I think it is a risk.”
IN DEFENSE: King argues two points in the administration’s defense: “What if this deal hadn't been made and the story today was 'American POW dies in Taliban camp and beheaded in Kabul' and the president didn't take a deal that was offered? We’d be having all of the same criticism coming from the opposite direction."
Secondly, King said that under laws of war, Taliban officials could be released from Guantanamo Bay when the war in Afghanistan ends.
“This may have been the last chance to get Bergdahl where these guys had true value to us as a negotiating tool,” he said.
WHO'S TO BLAME?: King blasted Congress for the resulting political firestorm, calling the partisan issue "tiresome":
“This is an outfit that can't decide its way out of a wet paper bag and, all of a sudden, everybody is saying, 'Well, I would have done it this way and I would have done it that way,' meanwhile, we are not getting anything done.”
King said that it’s disturbing that people are trying Bergdahl in public and in the media.
“Let's take a deep breath, get the facts so we know what we are talking about, and then assess and we will have plenty of time to assess, A. what kind of soldier he was, and B. whether this was a reasonable deal.”