ICYMI: Senator Cotton Discusses the Obama Administration’s $400 Million Payment to Iran with Fox News Channel’s Greta Van Susteren
“This is just one more chapter in the very sad, long history of Barack Obama’s feckless dealings with the ayatollahs in Iran.”
In case you missed it— Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) appeared on Fox News Channel’s On the Record with Greta Van Susteren earlier this evening to discuss the Obama Administration’s $400 million payment to Iran. A full transcript of the interview can be found below.
Greta: Senator, the payment of $400 million, the Obama administration says that was not a paid ransom for the Americans. Do you believe that?
Tom Cotton: No, Greta, not at all. I said it was a ransom at the time. I find it highly suspect that a 36-year-old claim was miraculously solved on the same day that Iran released hostages that they have held for many years. This was clearly a ransom payment to release those hostages and the wages of it is that we now we have more American hostages in Iran.
Greta: Why do you think the President did this, coincidental with the time of the nuclear deal? If it weren’t ransom, wouldn’t he have come up with a better way to do this?
Tom Cotton: What also happened, at the same time this cold hard cash was flown into Iran in an unmarked aircraft and these hostages were release, was the final implementation of nuclear deal with Iran. And obviously I, and many others, had been sharply critical of the President for not negotiating the release of all these hostages before he even sat down at the table to talk about the nuclear deal. So I suspect that he wanted to have these hostages gone, even though the price of it was $400 million in small unmarked bills flying into Iran on an unmarked aircraft like it was a drug cartel transaction, not a legitimate negotiation between two governments.
Greta: Just so we get this straight— this is money that the United States had from before the revolution in 1979, right? This was part of a settlement with Iran about the funds?
Tom Cotton: Well, it was disputed money related to a transaction with the Shah of Iran, before the Ayatollahs took over in 1979. It hadn’t been disputed for 36 years and then just miraculously on the day the hostages were released and the Iran nuclear deal was implemented, they finally resolved that dispute. And they have given Iran more money than they were entitled to under their claims and the regular rules of interest accrual. And we now know that didn’t just give them that money, they gave it to them in cold, hard cash. Cash that we cannot trace, that we cannot know what happened to. And that even the White House Press Secretary admitted maybe going into the hands of Hamas, Hezbollah or other terrorist organizations.
Greta: Paying ransom is against American policy, but what can you do about it?
Tom Cotton: We can be a lot tougher on the front end, Greta. We should have said very clearly that we wouldn’t even talk to Iran about its nuclear program until all Americans held in captivity were released. Remember, four years ago when these talks first started, Iran’s economy was suffering badly because of sanctions that Congress had imposed on Iran—against the wishes of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton at the time, I should add. The sanctions were tough enough that we could have set the terms of the negotiations, including releasing all American hostages before we even sat down. Now what do we have? A bad nuclear deal, and more Americans being held hostage, and Iran with $400 million in cold, hard, cash.
Greta: We’re going to have one of the children of former FBI Agent Bob Levinson on in a minute. He’s been held since 2007 in Iran, at least we think he’s held in Iran. Any thoughts about that tonight? Because he didn’t come home in the prisoner swap in January.
Tom Cotton: Well, my heart breaks for the Levinson family and as I’ve long said we should have negotiated for the release of all of the hostages, to include Mr. Levinson, who is the longest held hostage in Iran. When those hostages were released in January, I rejoiced for them and their families. But the Levinson family still wonders what happened to Mr. Levinson and you have other Americans who now are being held hostage, as well. This is just one more chapter in the very sad, long history of Barack Obama’s feckless dealings with the ayatollahs in Iran.