In case you missed it, over the past couple of days the right-wing has been in full meltdown mode over $400 million the U.S. sent to Iran. The simple truth of the matter is once the nuclear deal with the Iranian government had been worked out, there were some peripheral issues that needed to be addressed. One of those issues involved some $1.7 billion owed to the Iranians for a weapons deal that was negotiated with the Shah’s regime but which was never fulfilled due to his overthrow. In January President Obama observed that since the nuclear deal was complete, and the Iranians were returning four Americans who they had detained in Teheran, it was time to resolve the issue of the weapons deal as well. As the Americans were being released, a plane carrying pallets of currency landed in Iran, delivering the first installment of the Iranians’ money.
So there really is no “there” there in Republican claims that the Obama administration secured the release of the American prisoners by paying ransom. Conservatives must be confused — it was Ronald Reagan, not Barack Obama, who paid ransom for hostages, in the form of illegal arms shipments. But I digress.
Of course it didn’t take long for you-know-who to weigh in. Donald Trump told a crowd at a campaign stop in Florida on Wednesday that he had seen a “top-secret” tape of Iranians taking the money off the plane. And the crowd ate up every word.
Now, you already know what’s coming next, right? Everything Trump said about a tape that shows the delivery was a lie.
The Associated Press fact-checked Trump’s claims about the tape and reported that several senior U.S. officials who were involved in the negotiations said that they were unaware of the existence of any such recording. When The Washington Post asked Trump’s campaign about the candidate’s claim, they included a link to a YouTube video of a Fox News report and asked whether that was the video to which Trump was referring. Trump’s spokesperson Hope Hicks replied that yes, the Fox video was the one the candidate had seen.
The video Trump was talking about shows several people getting off a plane, carrying bags in their hands. That video has been widely assumed to show the arrival of the American hostages in Geneva, Switzerland. It certainly doesn’t show anyone handling a pallet of money.
Trump left the impression that he had watched the video in an intelligence briefing. The Daily Beast reports that when asked about Trump’s claim, one U.S. official said, “It didn’t happen. That was not part of any briefing.” A second official just laughed.
Even though his own campaign refuted his claim about the video, Trump returned to it on Thursday. According to The Huffington Post, he told a crowd in Portland, Maine,
It was interesting because a tape was made. Right? You saw that? With the airplane coming in? Nice plane. And the airplane coming and the money coming off, I guess, right? That was given to us, has to be, by the Iranians. And you know why the tape was given to us? Because they want to embarrass our country. They want to embarrass our country. And they want to embarrass our president, because we have a president who is incompetent.
It is time to find out whether Trump is simply lying through his teeth, or whether he actually believes what he is saying is true. Either way, this adds to the mounting evidence that Donald Trump is unfit to be president.
Here are Trump’s remarks about the “top secret” tape, via YouTube:
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