Sen. Mark Kirk joined fellow Republicans in criticizing President Obama for shipping $400 million in cash to the Iranians, and withholding that payment until American prisoners were freed.
‘We can’t have the president of the United States acting like the drug-dealer-in-chief,’ Kirk told the editorial board of the State Journal-Register on Tuesday. The story was then published over the weekend.
Kirk objected to the United States giving Iran ‘clean packs of money.’ Calling the Islamic republic a ‘state sponsor of terror.’
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‘Those 500-euro notes will pop up across the Middle East,’ Kirk warned. ‘We’re going to see problems in multiple [countries] because of that money given to them.’
A chorus of Republicans, including presidential nominee Donald Trump, have torn into the administration over the January 17 swap in recent days.
Republicans contend that the money, which the U.S. owed the Iranian government over an arms deal that fell apart in the 1970s, was ‘ransom’ because the Americans didn’t fork it over until four American hostages were freed, including Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian.
The administration pointed to the fact that the two negotiations were held separately and with separate teams, even though the delivery of the money and the release of the Americans happened on the same day.
On Thursday, State Department spokesman John Kirby connected those two dealings saying that the delivery of the $400 million cash payment – made up of euros, Swiss francs and other currencies because U.S. law bans transacting American dollars to Iran – was contingent on the prisoners physical release.
It marked the first time the U.S. linked the two events on-the-record.
Kirby then went on CNN to push back again at ‘ransom’ claims.
‘First of all this is Iran’s money,’ he said. ‘No. 1, I think the way ransom works is you have to pay first and then you get your hostages back, and that’s not what happened here.’
But Kirk’s campaign, who is guiding him through a tough re-election fight against Democrat Tammy Duckworth, stood by the Republican’s claims.