GOP senator: Obama 'hid' Iran payment from Congress
© Getty Images

Sen. Kelly AyotteKelly AyotteOPINION: Democracy will send ISIS to the same grave as communism Kelly Ayotte joins defense contractor's board of directors Week ahead: Comey firing dominates Washington MORE wants details on a $400 million payment made to Iran, arguing the Obama administration hid the transaction from Congress. 

The New Hampshire Republican sent a letter to Treasury Secretary Jack LewJack LewWhite House divide may derail needed China trade reform 3 unconventional ways Trump can tackle the national debt One year later, the Iran nuclear deal is a success by any measure MORE after The Wall Street Journal reported details of the payment and that some Justice Department officials had raised concerns.

"Contrary to the President’s assertions last week, the covert shipment of a $400 million cash ransom payment to Iran on the day Americans were released by Tehran was purposefully hid from members of Congress," she said in a statement. "Equally disturbing, the administration used bulk foreign currency cash transfers to evade the effects of U.S. financial sanctions."

Ayotte is the latest GOP lawmaker to question the administration on the details of the money, which was the first part of a $1.7 billion settlement to resolve a decades-old arms dispute. The administration announced the settlement in January.

But opponents of a separate Iran nuclear deal — including Ayotte — have seized on the fact that the payment was made in cash and coincided with the release of U.S. hostages from Iran to argue that it was a "ransom payment." 

Ayotte asked Lew what role the Treasury Department, or individuals affiliated with the department, played in the payment, including if officials traveled abroad or contacted foreign banks.

She also questioned if the administration violated sanctions, asking if the department or its officials believed the money would "meet the standard for material support to a designated entity" or if the payment constituted money laundering. 

"If Treasury Department officials expressed concern regarding these transfers or were asked to facilitate the evasion of U.S. and international financial sanctions, that would raise additional questions that the administration should answer for Congress and the American people," Ayotte said. 

Republicans have seized on the payment, with GOP Sens. Johnny IsaksonJohnny IsaksonGeorgia special election runoff: live coverage House approves VA bill, sending it to Trump Senate backs bill making it easier to fire VA employees MORE (Ga.), David Perdue (Ga.), Mark KirkMark KirkGOP senator defends funding Planned Parenthood Why Qatar Is a problem for Washington Taking the easy layup: Why brain cancer patients depend on it MORE (Ill.), Chuck GrassleyChuck GrassleySenate panel questions Lynch on alleged FBI interference The Hill's 12:30 Report GOP senator surprises top Dem with birthday cake MORE (Iowa) and Tom CottonTom CottonCotton: US policy should be regime change in Iran Only Congress can enable drone technology to reach its full potential Senate Dem offers patent reform bill MORE (Ark.) also sending letters to the administration. 

Ayotte, who is up for reelection, has also targeted New Hampshire Gov. Maggie Hassan, her Democratic opponent, over the payment, arguing she should pull her support for the separate nuclear agreement because of it.