Donald Trump attacked Hillary Clinton and President Barack Obama over a report on Wednesday that revealed the United States gave Iran $400 million in cash at the same time that four American soldiers were released from Iran.
“Our incompetent Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, was the one who started talks to give 400 million dollars, in cash, to Iran. Scandal!” said Trump on Twitter.
Our incompetent Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, was the one who started talks to give 400 million dollars, in cash, to Iran. Scandal!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 3, 2016
The Obama administration airlifted the money in an unmarked cargo plane in January, which coincided with the release of four U.S. citizens detained in Tehran, The Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday.
Other prominent Republicans also came out criticizing the transfer.
“Obama administration sent plan[e] load of cash to #Iran as ransom as part of deal on hostages. Just unreal,” said Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) in a tweet.
— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) August 3, 2016
— Senator Ted Cruz (@SenTedCruz) August 3, 2016
The administration, including President Obama and Sec. Clinton, is responsible for leading America into a deal that will arm #Iran.
— Richard Burr (@SenatorBurr) August 3, 2016
The $400 million was the first installment of a $1.7 billion settlement the Obama administration reached with Iran to solve a decades-old dispute over a failed arms deal signed just before the 1979 overthrow of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. The settlement, which was resolved before an international tribune, occurred on the same weekend the United States and other global powers brokered a nuclear deal with Iran.
“With the nuclear deal done, prisoners released, the time was right to resolve this dispute as well,” President Obama said on Jan. 17.
Although he did not disclose the $400 million cash payment, Obama did suggest the United States would give money to Iran.
“The United States and Iran are now settling a longstanding Iranian government claim against the United States government. Iran will be returned its own funds, including appropriate interest, but much less than the amount Iran sought,” said Obama at the time.
“For the United States, this settlement could save us billions of dollars that could have been pursued by Iran,” he added.
The release of the prisoners was portrayed as a diplomatic breakthrough by Secretary of State John Kerry and the Obama administration. The Americans who were released included Washington Post journalist Jason Rezaian, Idaho pastor Saeed Abedini, and former Marine Corps Sergeant Amir Hekmati. The United States released seven Iranian citizens and dropped extradition requests for 14 others.
Senior officials denied a connection between the cash given to Iran and the prisoner exchange.
“As we’ve made clear, the negotiations over the settlement of an outstanding claim …were completely separate from the discussions about returning our American citizens home,” State Department spokesperson John Kirby told the Journal.
“Not only were the two negotiations separate, they were conducted by different teams on each side, including, in the case of The Hague claims, by technical experts involved in these negotiations for many years,” he added.