WashPost fact-checker gives Pompeo four 'Pinocchios' for 'zombie' claim about Obama Iran deal

A Washington Post fact-checker shot down a previously debunked claim from former Secretary of State Mike PompeoMike PompeoObama looks to give new momentum to McAuliffe The CIA's next mission: Strategic competition with China and Russia Biden, Trump tied in potential 2024 match-up: poll MORE about former President ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaGlasgow summit raises stakes for Biden deal Obama gives fiery speech for McAuliffe: 'Don't sit this one out' Obama looks to give new momentum to McAuliffe MORE's policy toward Iran. 

“The folks that are around President BidenJoe BidenGrant Woods, longtime friend of McCain and former Arizona AG, dies at 67 Sanders on Medicare expansion in spending package: 'Its not coming out' Glasgow summit raises stakes for Biden deal MORE today in his White House talking about foreign policy are the same leaders — a fellow named Brett McGurk sent $150 billion, pallets of cash, to the Iranians, who are hosting the senior al-Qaeda leadership in Tehran today," the Post quoted Pompeo as saying during an appearance on Fox News's "Sunday Morning Futures."

The Post's lead fact-checker and analyst, Glenn Kessler, rated Pompeo's assertion "false" and described it as a "zombie" claim, meaning it is "a falsehood that persists no matter how often we debunk it."


The former secretary of State, who served under former President TrumpDonald TrumpGrant Woods, longtime friend of McCain and former Arizona AG, dies at 67 Super PACs release ad campaign hitting Vance over past comments on Trump Glasgow summit raises stakes for Biden deal MORE, has repeatedly suggested Obama sent "pallets of cash" comprised of taxpayer dollars to Iran as part of a deal to to settle an outstanding claim from the country. 

Trump has also pushed the misleading claim during rallies and in speeches attacking his predecessor. 

"But policy details were never Trump’s expertise," Kessler wrote. "As a former chief U.S. diplomat, Pompeo should know better. Instead, he has uttered a mishmash that is especially misleading." 

A spokesperson for Pompeo told the Post he had misspoken on Sunday and "meant to refer to the $1.7 billion in cash that was transferred at the time of the detainee release, not $150 billion."

The fact-checker noted a separate appearance by Pompeo on Fox News from 2020 during which the then chief diplomat said: "In 2015, the Obama-Biden administration essentially handed power to the Iranian leadership and acted as a quasi-ally of theirs, by underwriting them — underwriting the very malicious — that killed Americans. ... We provided them $150 billion, pallets of cash.”


The Post awarded Pompeo four "Pinocchios," the most possible, for repeating the misleading claim about Obama's administration. 

"It’s time for Republicans to retire this $150 billion claim," Kessler concluded. "It’s often framed as U.S. taxpayer money — it was not — and it was related to the relief of Treasury sanctions that are now back in place. It’s especially absurd to suggest that this was provided to Iran as an all-cash transaction, as Pompeo did to Fox viewers. Perhaps Pompeo got his misleading talking points mixed up, but he has suggested before that Obama gave $150 billion in cash. So we’re not feeling especially generous."