The White House predictably denied that pallets of cash airlifted to Iran on the same day that U.S. hostages were released was a payment for their release.
“Let me be clear – the United States does not pay ransom,” Earnest said.
White House reporters for the New York Times, NBC, CBS, and CNN pressed Earnest about the details of the Wall Street Journal report, appearing skeptical of the administration’s argument.
While the State Department suggested that the date was a “coincidence,” Earnest appeared reluctant to go on the record saying the same thing.
Earnest refused to confirm or deny any details of the story, suggesting that it would only confirm opponents of the Iran deal to score a “propaganda victory.” He insisted that the pallets of cash were effectively money that belonged to Iran in the first place, part of a larger collection of deals with the rogue nation that concluded at the same time.
“This all came to a head at the same time because we are addressing and resolving longstanding concerns with Iranian behavior and the benefits are almost too long to mention,” he said.
Republicans seized on the report of the airlifted cash published by the Wall Street Journal as proof that Obama effectively paid off Iran to release American citizens.
In response, Earnest mocked Republicans for trying to “drum up innuendo” against the Iran deal, comparing them to “right-wing” Iranian opponents of the deal.
“Critics of the deal have lost this argument,” he said.
But Earnest refused to say whether or not the hostages would have been released if the cash hadn’t been delivered on the same day