McCain: Obama acting in a 'most imperial fashion'

President Obama is acting in a “most imperial fashion” and “continues to violate the law” with his steps to release prisoners from Guantánamo Bay and work to normalize relations with Cuba, Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainGOP senators appalled by 'ridiculous' House infighting MSNBC's Nicolle Wallace, Chris Christie battle over Fox News Trump's attacks on McConnell seen as prelude to 2024 White House bid MORE (R-Ariz.) charged Sunday.


“This is a president who ran on an open and transparent presidency,” McCain said during an appearance on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “It’s very disappointing.”

McCain said that unlike predecessors who had tried to work with their opposition after suffering defeats in the midterm elections, Obama had taken “a very different approach.”

On Guantánamo specifically, McCain said that rather than working with lawmakers to move detainees to maximum-security prisons in the U.S., Obama had returned them to their home countries, where a sizable portion reentered the battlefield.

“I always wanted to close Guantánamo, but I wanted to transfer those prisoners to maximum-security prisons,” McCain said.

But administration officials have said they have been frustrated by congressional language restricting the transfer of detainees to U.S. soil. The $585 billion defense authorization bill Obama signed on Friday included similar language, prompting a signing statement by Obama arguing that “under certain circumstances” they would “violate constitutional separation of powers principles.”

In an interview airing immediately before McCain’s, Obama said he’d do everything he could to close the facility.

“I’m going to be doing everything I can to close it,” Obama said. “It is something that continues to inspire jihadists and extremists around the world, the fact that these folks are being held. It is contrary to our values and it is wildly expensive.”

On Cuba, McCain said Obama’s efforts to normalize relations were “endorsing their 50 years of oppression and repression.”

“We’ve shown no progress,” he said. “We’re rewarding Cuba for the kind of behavior that has characterized both Castro brothers.”