GOP senator: Obama 'hid' Iran payment from Congress
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Sen. Kelly AyotteKelly Ann AyotteBottom line The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by Facebook - Senate makes SCOTUS nominee Barrett a proxy for divisive 2020 Senate Republicans scramble to put Trump at arm's length 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 LewJacob (Jack) Joseph LewApple just saved billion in tax — but can the tax system be saved? Lobbying World Russian sanctions will boomerang 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 IsaksonQAnon-promoter Marjorie Taylor Greene endorses Kelly Loeffler in Georgia Senate bid Biden up by 7 points in Georgia: survey Loeffler tweets edited video showing Trump taking down coronavirus in wrestling match MORE (Ga.), David Perdue (Ga.), Mark KirkMark Steven KirkThe Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by Facebook - Senate makes SCOTUS nominee Barrett a proxy for divisive 2020 Senate Republicans scramble to put Trump at arm's length Liberal veterans group urges Biden to name Duckworth VP MORE (Ill.), Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyBarrett confirmation stokes Democrats' fears over ObamaCare On The Money: Power players play chess match on COVID-19 aid | Pelosi bullish, Trump tempers optimism | Analysis: Nearly 1M have run out of jobless benefits Grassley: Voters should be skeptical of Biden's pledge to not raise middle class taxes MORE (Iowa) and Tom CottonTom Bryant CottonCotton mocks NY Times over claim of nonpartisanship, promises to submit op-eds as test Barrett fight puts focus on abortion in 2020 election COVID outbreak threatens GOP's Supreme Court plans 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.