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Coincidence Or Not? WH Vs. State Dept. On Secret Iran Payments

- August 3, 2016

This Morning, The Wall Street Journal Is Reporting That " The Obama Administration Secretly Organized An Airlift $400 Million Worth Of Cash To Iran That Coincided With The January Release Of Four Americans Detained In Tehran." "The Obama administration secretly organized an airlift of $400 million worth of cash to Iran that coincided with the January release of four Americans detained in Tehran, according to U.S. and European officials and congressional staff briefed on the operation afterward. (Jay Solomon And Carol E. Lee, "U.S. Sent Cash To Iran As Americans Were Freed," The Wall Street Journal, 8/3/16)

"Wooden Pallets Stacked With Euros, Swiss Francs And Other Currencies Were Flown Into Iran On An Unmarked Cargo Plane, According To These Officials." "Wooden pallets stacked with euros, Swiss francs and other currencies were flown into Iran on an unmarked cargo plane, according to these officials. The U.S. procured the money from the central banks of the Netherlands and Switzerland, they said. (Jay Solomon And Carol E. Lee, "U.S. Sent Cash To Iran As Americans Were Freed," The Wall Street Journal, 8/3/16)

The Payment Was The First Installment Of The $1.7 Billion Iran Nuclear Agreement . "The money represented the first installment of a $1.7 billion settlement the Obama administration reached with Iran to resolve a decades-old dispute over a failed arms deal signed just before the 1979 fall of Iran's last monarch, Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi." (Jay Solomon And Carol E. Lee, "U.S. Sent Cash To Iran As Americans Were Freed,"The Wall Street Journal, 8/3/16)

Today, State Department Spokesman John Kirby Actually Argued The Timing Of A Cargo Plane Of Cash Landing In Iran As Hostages Were Released Was Merely "Coincidental" And Helped U.S. Taxpayers

State Department Spokesman John Kirby Today Claimed That The Secret Payment Was Benefiting Taxpayers" STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESMAN KIRBY: "It's not that we believe we owe. I don't have the payment schedule in front of me. This compromise was actually done to the taxpayers' benefit t=here because there was potentially billions of dollars additionally that they would have had to pay had we not reached this compromise. And that's billions of dollars more that would have been available to Iran that they are not going to have now." FOX NEWS' BILL HEMMER: HEMMER: "But it's clear this was not made public. And it appears that it was kept secret-- and it appears it was kept secret and it smells. When you see a video at night of an unmarked jet with pallets of Euros and Swiss francs being unloaded as a payment to Iran, it looks bad and it smells." JOHN KIRBY: "I'll let you speak to how you want to characterize video coverage of this. What I can tell you is there was no secret about it. The President spoke about it in January, the Secretary spoke about it, I spoke about it. Everybody has been honest about what happened, why it happened and how it happened. And oh by the way, the teams that were negotiating the release of our Americans were completely separate than the team working in the Hague tribunal. It was simultaneously done and the timing is coincidental." HEMMER: "In the Wall Street Journal it talks about Iranian press reports. Straight out of Tehran they quoted a senior Iranian defense official as saying it was a ransom payment. Are they wrong?" KIRBY: "Yes, they are. They are absolutely wrong, completely wrong. You can believe us who talked about this on camera and on the record since January or you can believe unnamed anonymous defense official from Iran. You choose who you are going to believe to be more credible." HEMMER: "$1.3 billion to go, correct. Is that more pallets of euros headed for Tehran." KIRBY: "I'm not going to get into the payment schedule. This was a compromise deal and that was the money agreed to." (John Kirby, America's Newsroom, Fox News, 8/3/16)

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But Back In January, White House Spokesman Josh Earnest Claimed That The Payment Was Related To The Release Of U.S. Hostages

White House Spokesman Josh Earnest Admitted That Iran Payment Was Related To The Release Of U.S Hostages. QUESTION: "Okay, but as I understand it, the Department of State announced this payment of $1.7 billion to the government of Iran just before the plane carrying the freed Americans landed in Geneva. You're really telling me that this is an absolute coincidence that this payment just happened to coincide with the precise moment when the American prisoners were flying to freedom?" WHITE HOUSE SPOKESMAN JOSH EARNEST: Jon, I think we've made pretty clear that this is not a coincidence. The fact is, these kinds of diplomatic opportunities." QUESTION: "So it was -- because Paul Ryan has suggested this was a ransom payment. You saw his statement." "EARNEST: He's wrong about that." QUESTION: "But you're saying that this is connected with the freedom of." EARNEST: "What I'm suggesting is that the successful resolution of our concerns about Iran's nuclear program created a series of diplomatic opportunities for the United States that we've capitalized on. And we used that opening and we used that deeper diplomatic engagement to secure the release of five American citizens who are being unjustly held inside of Iran. And we used that diplomatic opening to resolve a longstanding financial claim that the Iranians had against the United States in a way that ultimately saves U.S. taxpayers billions of dollars, potentially up to $6 billion or $7 billion. So this is exhibit A in the administration pursuing tough, principled diplomacy in a way that actually ends up making the American people safer and advancing the interests of the United States more effectively than military actions." (Josh Earnest, White House Press Briefing, Washington D.C., 1/19/16)

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