Missouri Sen. Roy Blunt on Thursday accused the Obama administration of misleading the America people when it came to a $400 million cash payment to Iran, which has now been tied to the release of four American hostages.
The State Department confirmed the connection earlier Thursday.
State Department spokesman John Kirby insisted that talks over the U.S. returning Iranian money from a frozen account were separate from negotiations to release the prisoners. But he acknowledged that the U.S. used the $400 million as leverage until the U.S. citizens were out of Iran.
In a statement, Blunt said the administration had deliberately misled Congress and the American people “when it repeatedly denied any connection between the release of American hostages in Iran and the $1.7 billion payout to the Iranian regime.
“Today’s admission by the State Department that it withheld its $400 million cash payment until the hostages were released proves what I, and many others, have said from the beginning: The Obama administration paid a ransom to a terrorist regime that has backed deadly attacks against America and our allies.
“Iran is the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism, and this ransom payment gives the regime both the resources and the incentive to target more Americans.”
Blunt was one of a number of Republicans who criticized the administration over the matter. Democrats, though, rushed to defend the president, saying Republicans were using the issue as a hammer during an intense political season.
“I think they made the right judgment,” California Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein told USA Today.