GOP leaders blast Obama over Iran payment

Top Republicans on Wednesday blasted the Obama administration over a report that the U.S. made a secret $400 million payment to Iran that coincided with the release of four American prisoners.


“If true, this report confirms our longstanding suspicion that the administration paid a ransom in exchange for Americans unjustly detained in Iran,” said Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanElection Countdown: Trump confident about midterms in Hill.TV interview | Kavanaugh controversy tests candidates | Sanders, Warren ponder if both can run | Super PACs spending big | Two states open general election voting Friday | Latest Senate polls On The Money: Midterms to shake up House finance panel | Chamber chief says US not in trade war | Mulvaney moving CFPB unit out of DC | Conservatives frustrated over big spending bills Nancy Pelosi: Will she remain the ‘Face of the Franchise’? MORE in a statement. 

“It would also mark another chapter in the ongoing saga of misleading the American people to sell this dangerous nuclear deal,” the Wisconsin Republican added. “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."

The Wall Street Journal reported late Tuesday that the Obama administration secretly airlifted $400 million in foreign currencies to Iran and cited Iranian news outlets that reported that the payment arrived on the same day that the prisoners were released.

The money is the first installment of a $1.7 billion settlement the two countries agreed on regarding an abandoned arms deal from the 1970s.

The settlement, announced in January, relates to money that Iran had sent to the U.S. as part of an arms deal that was abandoned shortly thereafter when the two countries broke diplomatic ties after Iran went through a regime change.

The agreement stipulates that the U.S. would pay back the principal $400 million, plus $1.3 billion in interest.

GOP lawmakers have been blasting the "secret deal" since it was first announced at the beginning of the year.

“After nearly two months of stalling, the State Department confirmed what I feared was true: the Obama administration is negotiating behind closed doors with the Islamic Republic of Iran and using taxpayer dollars to pay the regime,” said Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.) in a statement in March.

“Worse yet, more of these payments are likely coming," he said.

Pompeo, who has been one of most outspoken critics of the Iran nuclear agreement, on Wednesday compared the Obama administration's payment to the Iran-Contra scandal, an incident where Reagan administration officials were discovered to have secretly and illegally sold weapons to the rogue nation.

“Reports of the U.S. paying Iran $400 million in pallets of cash, using other currencies in order to circumvent American law, is something of Hollywood films — and is reminiscent of the Iran Contra scandal," Pompeo said in a statement. 

"Have we not learned we cannot trust the world’s largest state sponsor of terrorism?"

Administration officials have maintained that the payment had nothing to do with the release of the hostages. Seven Iranians under indictment or imprisoned in the U.S. were granted clemency as part of a prisoner swap.

Republican National Committee (RNC) Chairman Reince Priebus joined Ryan in denouncing the administration over the payment. He blasted the Iran nuclear agreement that Obama pushed through Congress last year, saying it will help Iran funnel more money to terrorists.

“This secret deal with Iran only shows how comfortable the Obama Administration is hiding the truth from the American people,” Priebus said in a statement. “At a time when our country is newly concerned about terrorist attacks, we can no longer afford such unprincipled and out-of-touch leadership on the world stage.”

The RNC chairman also blasted Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonHillicon Valley: Trump's exclusive interview with Hill.TV | Trump, intel officials clash over Russia docs | EU investigating Amazon | Military gets new cyber authority | Flynn sentencing sparks new questions about Mueller probe READ: President Trump’s exclusive interview with Hill.TV Keeping up with Michael Avenatti MORE, tying the former secretary of State and current Democratic presidential nominee to the administration’s dealings with Iran.

“While our weak posture toward Iran undermines our interests, we cannot forget that Hillary Clinton was the initiator of this dangerous approach by spearheading the disastrous nuclear deal,” he said. “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 which has compromised the security of the United States and our ally Israel.”

Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzSinger Leon Bridges to join Willie Nelson in performing at O’Rourke rally Election Countdown: Trump confident about midterms in Hill.TV interview | Kavanaugh controversy tests candidates | Sanders, Warren ponder if both can run | Super PACs spending big | Two states open general election voting Friday | Latest Senate polls Poll: Beto O'Rourke leads Cruz by 2 points in Texas Senate race MORE (R-Texas) said in a statement that the “revelation” is evidence that the deal is “fundamentally illegitimate.”

“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. “This ‘deal’ should be ripped to shreds immediately before more damage is done.”

This report was last updated at 2:31 p.m.