After calling for an “urgent pivot” away from the Khan family controversy on Tuesday evening, the Republican Party is scrambling to divert attention away from Donald Trump’s repeated lack of sociopolitical awareness which has him losing points in the polls.
On Wednesday morning, both GOP Committee Chairman Reince Preibus and presidential candidate Trump tweeted about what they referred to as a "scandal" surrounding the Barack Obama administration sending cash to Iran in January as an under-the-table ransom for a prisoner swap.
Trump tweeted, “Our incompetent Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, was the one who started talks to give 400 million dollars [sic], in cash, to Iran.” He then punctuated this statement with “Scandal!”
Along similar lines, Preibus tweeted that the “Obama Admin secretly gave the Iranians $400M at the same time 4 Americans were released from their custody.” He also linked to the Wall Street Journal report from Wednesday morning which clearly indicated a pro-Republican bias by linking the two incidences.
Our incompetent Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, was the one who started talks to give 400 million dollars, in cash, to Iran. Scandal!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 3, 2016
Obama Admin secretly gave the Iranians $400M at the same time 4 Americans were released from their custody https://t.co/2BVbG56bCP— Reince Priebus (@Reince) August 3, 2016
Obama-Clinton foreign policy not only means cutting dangerous deal w/ # 1 state sponsor of terrorism it also means paying them secret ransom— Reince Priebus (@Reince) August 3, 2016
In a statement addressing what Priebus believed to be the root cause of the apparent "scandal," he said, "We cannot forget that Hillary Clinton was the initiator of this dangerous approach by spearheading the disastrous nuclear deal. Disregarding the threat of radical Islamic terrorism is par for the course with the Democrat Party, and a Hillary Clinton presidency will only mean more of the corrupt bargaining with rogue regimes."
However, a little fact-checking proves that, Obama did not bribe Iran with cash. The rebuttal to these GOP claims is fairly straightforward, although the Trump campaign would, in all likelihood, deny it.
Evidence indicates that the Obama administration’s cash payment to Iran in January was certainly not done in secret, let alone a ransom to supplement the prisoner swap deal. John Kerry’s office issued a press release in January, and the Associated Press reported on it, which explain the origins of the cash payment.
Adam Khan, author of “Hack the Bird,” tweeted a portion of the transcript from a White House press conference from mid-January, which offered an explanation as to why the U.S. government owed Iran money, again not tying it to the prisoner swap.
According to the transcript, the money that Obama sent was not directly related to the prisoner swap; it was an arcane repayment arranged by The Hague dating back to just before the 1979 Iranian revolution when the U.S. government made an arms deal with its last monarch, Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi.
Moreover, amidst eyebrows being raised at the Obama administration’s timing for such a payment, CIA Director John Brennan explained at a Colorado conference last week that the money is being used for infrastructure, not for its military. He said, “The money, the revenue that’s flowing into Iran is being used to support its currency, to provide moneys to the departments and agency, build up its infrastructure.”
This last claim may be difficult to prove, however, since corruption in Iranian politics is rampant, but Brennan’s statement does indicate that the White House had no reason to keep such a payment a secret.
Nice try, Trumpers, but you're still in the hot seat.
Photo credit: Reuters