The Republican party and the Trump Campaign have alleged that the USD 400 million the Obama Administration sent to Iran coinciding with the release of four imprisoned Americans was part of a ransom deal and have sought a full investigation into it.
“This administration has embarrassed our country as no administration has before, going so far as to fund Islamic terror through cash payments to Iran,” Stephen Miller, senior policy advisor to the Trump Campaign, said yesterday.
“Nothing less than a full investigation is required, and if email-destroying Hillary Clinton can’t break from Obama on this then she is even more corrupt than anyone imagined,” Miller said.
House Speaker Paul Ryan said the report confirmed his longstanding suspicion that the administration paid a ransom in exchange for Americans unjustly detained in Iran.
Ryan was referring to a Wall Street Journal report which stated that the US secretly organised an “airlift of USD 400 million” in hard cash to Iran that coincided with the release of four Americans detained in Tehran.
“It would also mark another chapter in the ongoing saga of misleading the American people to sell this dangerous nuclear deal. Yet again, the public deserves an explanation of the lengths this administration went to in order to accommodate the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism,” Ryan said.
Senator John McCain, Chairman of Senate Armed Services Committee said the Obama Administration’s airlift of USD 400 million in cash to Iran is disturbing, but hardly surprising given its long record of concessions to America’s adversaries.
“Whatever the Administration may claim, it is clear that this payment was a ransom for Americans held hostage in Iran,” McCain said.
“Sounds a lot like a ransom payment to me,” said House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy.
Administration officials said it was ‘coincidental’ that Iran released hostages on the same day. Iranian officials described the money as a ransom. Something is terribly wrong when it’s easier to trust Iranian officials than the President’s Administration, he said.
“This reckless arrangement is not only a major breach of longstanding US policy, it also means millions of dollars potentially finding their way into the pockets of terrorist organisations while putting a price on the head of every American,” alleged Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus.
“This secret deal with Iran only shows how comfortable the Obama Administration is hiding the truth from the American people,” he said.
Senator Marco Rubio, a former presidential candidate, in a statement announced his intention to introduce legislation stopping the Obama Administration’s ransom payment to Iran.
“Iran is the world’s foremost state sponsor of terrorism. It is disgusting that the Obama Administration would even contemplate providing almost USD 2 billion to a terrorist- sponsoring regime as an illicit ransom payment. As the Administration has stated in its own hostage policy, paying hostage-takers endangers American citizens,” he said.
The White House, however, has strongly refuted the ransom deal allegation, saying it was Iranian money.
“First of all, it’s Iranian money. I think what is true from all of the money that Iran has received since January, including from sanctions relief – which actually is more than USD 400 million. It’s much smaller than the hundreds of billions of dollars that critics of the deal predicted,” White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest told reporters.
“No, it was not. It is against the policy of the United States to pay ransom for hostages,” Earnest said.
“The facts of this are quite clear. I think it’s an indication of just how badly opponents of the Iran deal are struggling to justify their opposition to a successful deal that has prevented and continues to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon,” Earnest said.
He said the USD 400 million was actually the amount that the Iranians had paid into a US account in 1979 as part of a transaction to procure military equipment.
“That military equipment, as it relates to this USD 400 million, was not provided to the Iranians in 1979 because the Shah of Iran was overthrown. So that was the right decision,” Earnest said.
“It’s also why it was hard for the United States to make an argument in this case that we could just keep the money. So what the United States did was resolve a longstanding claim at The Hague that saved the American people potentially billions of dollars,” he said.