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Former Republican presidential nominee Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyMcConnell defends Trump amid backlash: 'He gets picked at every day' McConnell defends Trump amid backlash: 'He gets picked at every day' 'Landslide' for Biden? A look at 40 years of inaccurate presidential polls MORE said Thursday that he wouldn’t have traded five prisoners for the release of Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who was charged with desertion on Wednesday.

"I don’t think I would have made the trade," he said on NBC’s “Today Show.”


“The real question to me is, do the people being released represent a threat to American lives in the future. In this case, I believe they do,” he said.

Asked if Bergdahl should serve time in a military prison if convicted, Romney said he would leave that decision up to the people hearing the case.

“But if it were a severe setting where he abandoned his post and put other members of the military at risk, then, of course, a prison term has to be contemplated,” he said.

The Army said Wednesday that it was charging Bergdahl, who disappeared from his unit in 2009, with desertion and misbehavior before the enemy. He was traded for five Taliban prisoners last year.

The charges have reopened the debate about the prisoner swap Obama made last year to secure Bergdahl's release from the Taliban. The president released five Taliban commandos from the Guantánamo Bay prison in Cuba in exchange for Bergdahl, the last U.S. prisoner of war in Afghanistan. Some of the prisoners have attempted to contact terrorist groups online.

Republicans have argued Obama paid too high a price for Bergdahl, and fellow soldiers have accused him of walking off the job and endangering their lives.