Donald Trump’s presidential campaign and the Republican Jewish Coalition found some common ground on Thursday, tying Hillary Clinton to the Obama administration’s raison payment to Iran and handling of the prisoner release.
On Wednesday, the Wall Street Journal reported that the U.S. held on to the $400 million cash payment until the American hostages were on a plane taking off from Tehran, confirming Republican claims that the money was given as a ransom payment to Iran. According to the report, picture emerged from accounts of U.S. officials and others briefed on the operation that U.S. officials wouldn’t let Iranians take control of the money until a Swiss Air Force plane carrying three freed Americans departed from Tehran on Jan. 17.
Earlier this month, President Obama disputed the notion that it was a ransom payment for the release of American hostages. “We do not pay ransom. We didn’t here, and we won’t in the future,” Obama said. “Those families know we have a policy that we don’t pay ransom. And the notion that we would somehow start now, in this high-profile way, and announce it to the world, even as we’re looking in the faces of other hostage families whose loved ones are being held hostage, and saying to them we don’t pay ransom, defies logic.”
However, at a Thursday press briefing, State Department Spokesperson John Kirby confirmed that the U.S. had made the release of the $400 million contingent on Iran releasing the hostages. “We deliberately leveraged that moment to finalize these outstanding issues nearly simultaneously,” he said. “With concerns that Iran may renege on the prisoner release, given unnecessary delays regarding persons in Iran who could not be located as well as, to be quite honest, mutual mistrust between Iran and the United States, we of course sought to retain maximum leverage until after American citizens were released. That was our top priority.”
In a statement released hours after the press briefing, the Trump campaign indicated it felt vindicated by the Republican presidential nominee’s initial assertion that Hillary Clinton played a significant role in crafting the administration’s policy on Iran, which led to the Iran nuclear deal and the ‘ransom’ swap. “Today’s admission by the State Department that they paid a $400M ransom to release American hostages from Iran further cements Hillary Clinton’s role in crafting disastrous policies that have led to a more dangerous world,” said Trump’s spokesman Jason Miller.”Already under fire for lying to the American people about her illegal email server, Clinton is continuing to align herself with an Administration that has continually lied to Americans as well. By helping put together a deal that ultimately sent $400M to Iran that was likely used to fund terrorism, Clinton has proven herself unfit to be president of the United States.”
The Republican Jewish Coalition called on Clinton and all Democrats to “immediately condemn this ransom payment and reverse their support for the dangerous nuclear deal with Iran.”