GOP senator: Obama 'hid' Iran payment from Congress
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Sen. Kelly AyotteKelly Ann AyotteSchultz recruiting GOP insiders ahead of possible 2020 bid Bottom Line US, allies must stand in united opposition to Iran’s bad behavior 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 LewOvernight Finance: US reaches deal with ZTE | Lawmakers look to block it | Trump blasts Macron, Trudeau ahead of G-7 | Mexico files WTO complaint Obama-era Treasury secretary: Tax law will make bipartisan deficit-reduction talks harder GOP Senate report says Obama officials gave Iran access to US financial system 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 IsaksonJohn (Johnny) Hardy IsaksonThis week: Congress set for next stage of Mueller probe fight Trump keeps up attacks on 'horrible' McCain, despite calls from GOP, veterans Crenshaw to Trump: 'Stop talking about McCain' MORE (Ga.), David Perdue (Ga.), Mark KirkMark Steven KirkThe global reality behind 'local' problems Dems vow swift action on gun reform next year This week: Trump heads to Capitol Hill MORE (Ill.), Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleySenate GOP eyes probes into 2016 issues 'swept under the rug' Treasury expands penalty relief to more taxpayers Overnight Health Care: Senators seek CBO input on preventing surprise medical bills | Oversight panel seeks OxyContin documents | Pharmacy middlemen to testify on prices | Watchdog warns air ambulances can put patients at 'financial risk' MORE (Iowa) and Tom CottonThomas (Tom) Bryant CottonSenate rejects border declaration in major rebuke of Trump Hillicon Valley: Doctors press tech to crack down on anti-vax content | Facebook, Instagram suffer widespread outages | Spotify hits Apple with antitrust complaint | FCC rejects calls to delay 5G auction Senate votes to confirm Neomi Rao to appeals court 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.