Donald Trump hurled an unsubstantiated accusation at President Joe Biden, baselessly suggesting that he received a “kickback” after the release of Iranian funding in connection to the planned liberation of five Americans in captivity.
Mr Trump took to his social media platform Truth Social on the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, writing, “So, let’s get this straight! We did a hostage TRADE with Iran. We gave them 5 very tough, smart people that they desperately wanted. We likewise got back 5 people BUT, we also gave them 6 BILLION DOLLARS!”
“How much of a kickback does Crooked Joe Biden get?” he asked. “Does anyone realize how much money 6 Billion Dollars is? When I was President, I got back 58 hostages for ZERO money. Remember Pastor Brunson? It sets a TERRIBLE precedent. Republicans, call out the 25th Amendment, NOW! Biden is INCOMPETENT!”
Secretary of State Antony Blinken signed a waiver to allow Iran to get access to $6bn of its oil money which had been blocked by American sanctions.
Mr Blinken said in a statement that to secure the release of the prisoners, “the United States has committed to release five Iranian nationals currently held in the United States and to permit the transfer of approximately $6 billion in restricted Iranian funds held in (South Korea) to restricted accounts in Qatar, where the funds will be available only for humanitarian trade”.
Arkansas Republican Senator Tom Cotton also criticised Mr Biden on Monday, writing on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter: “First Joe Biden used 9/11 as an excuse to flee Afghanistan. Now he desecrates this day by paying ransom to the world’s worst state sponsor of terrorism. Shameful.”
“It’s ridiculous for US to be blackmailed into paying $6B for hostages which will help indirectly finance the number 1 foreign policy of Iran: terrorism,” Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa wrote. “Last time it was $1.7B traded for hostages next time it will probably be $10B the price keeps going up & up.”
National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson said in a statement, “As we have said from the outset, what is being pursued here is an arrangement wherein we secure the release of 5 wrongfully held Americans”.
“This remains a sensitive and ongoing process. While this is a step in the process, no individuals have been or will be released into US custody this week,” she added. “We have kept Congress extensively informed from the outset of this process – long before today – and we will continue to do so, including with additional already scheduled briefings this week.”
The chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Republican Michael McCaul of Texas said in a statement that “The Americans held by Iran are innocent hostages who must be released immediately and unconditionally”.
“However, I remain deeply concerned that the administration’s decision to waive sanctions to facilitate the transfer of $6 billion in funds for Iran, the world’s top state sponsor of terrorism, creates a direct incentive for America’s adversaries to conduct future hostage-taking,” he added.