TEHRAN, Young Journalists Club (YJC) - U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin assured President Donald Trump at a Cabinet meeting that sanctions were ready to be put in place if Brunson was not freed.
"We have more that we are planning to do if they don't release him quickly," Mnuchin said during the meeting.
The United States and Turkey have exchanged tit-for-tat tariffs in an escalating attempt by Trump to induce Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan into giving up Brunson, who denies charges that he was involved in a coup attempt against Erdogan two years ago.
"They have not proven to be a good friend," Trump said of Turkey during the Cabinet meeting. "They have a great Christian pastor there. He's an innocent man."
In a tweet later on Thursday, Trump said the United States "will pay nothing" for Brunson's release, "but we are cutting back on Turkey!" He called Brunson "a great patriot hostage."
Trump's national security adviser, John Bolton, had issued a blunt warning to Turkish ambassador Serdar Kilic when he met him on Monday at the White House, an administration official said on Thursday.
When Kilic sought to tie conditions to Brunson's release, Bolton waved them aside and said there would be no negotiations.
"Release Brunson," Bolton told him, according to the official, who declined to be named.