Top Republicans excoriated the Obama administration on Wednesday after news broke that the US had secretly airlifted $400 million in cash to Iran on the same day Tehran released four Americans in January.
“It’s a disgrace,” Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump said during a Florida rally.
“$400 million in cash, how does the president do that?” he asked. “How does he do that? … This is in cash. In currency.”
Obama administration officials flatly denied the $400 million cash drop was a ransom payment, as critics alleged. The State Department, instead, insisted the payment was part of a $1.7 billion financial settlement the US reached with Iran as part of the nuclear deal.
That didn’t do much to quell criticism from across the aisle.
Sen. John McCain of Arizona called the news “disturbing” in a statement, adding that it’s “hardly surprising given” the Obama administration’s “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,” he said.
Sen. Mark Kirk of Illinois concurred with McCain, calling the news proof that the transfer of cash to Iran was a “ransom payment.”
“Paying ransom to kidnappers puts Americans even more at risk,” he said in a statement. “While Americans were relieved by Iran’s overdue release of illegally imprisoned American hostages, the White House’s policy of appeasement has led Iran to illegally seize more American hostages, including Siamak Namazi, his father Baquer Namazi, and Reza Shahini.”
Calling it another piece of what is an “ongoing saga of misleading” Americans as it pertains to the Iran deal, if true, House Speaker Paul Ryan demanded an explanation for why the administration went to great lengths to “accommodate the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism.”
Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas went further than the three elected GOP officials and the Republican nominee, calling for the Iran deal to be “ripped to shreds immediately before more damage is done.”
The Texas Republican called the deal “with the mullahs” a “fundamentally illegitimate” agreement.
“It is nothing but a series of bribes and secret agreements that will do nothing to prevent Iran from reaching nuclear capability, yet will provide funding for their sponsorship of terrorism and encourage them to detain more of our citizens,” he said in a statement.
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