According to a new report, Senior U.S. Department of Justice officials not only knew about the $400 million payout from the U.S. government to Iran — they warned against it.
DOJ officials reportedly voiced their opposition to funneling millions of dollars to Iran via an unmarked cargo plane while the Iranian government was releasing four American hostages, according to The Wall Street Journal Wednesday.
“This report makes plain what the administration can no longer deny: This was a ransom payment to Iran for U.S. hostages.”
“People knew what it was going to look like, and there was concern the Iranians probably did consider it a ransom payment,” a source in the Justice Department told WSJ.
The State Department overruled their objections and shipped out wooden pallets of euros, Swiss francs, and other currencies, in compliance with a U.S. law restricting transactions in dollars to Iran.
White House press secretary Josh Earnest claims the payment was not a ransom nor a covert payment, but a resolution to “a 35-year-old financial claim with the Iranians in a way that saved Americans potentially billions of dollars.”
Many lawmakers and Americans aren’t buying into the administration’s claim that the timing payment was merely a coincidence.
Sen. Tom Cotton sent a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry and Treasury Secretary Jack Lew spelling out the implications of the payment and demanding answers.
“This report makes plain what the administration can no longer deny: This was a ransom payment to Iran for U.S. hostages,” Cotton wrote.
“As you are intimately aware, Iran has a history of illegally detaining U.S. persons as hostages, and it has shown a continued propensity to seize such hostages,” Cotton wrote. “Iran is the top state sponsor of terrorism in the world,” he noted.
“I am afraid that the cash payment of a $400 million ransom to the ayatollahs makes all of these problems exponentially worse.”