The Biden administration has issued a waiver for international banks to transfer $6 billion from frozen Iranian funds from South Korea to Qatar in order to clear the way to effect the release of five American prisoners in Iran. Naturally, this upset Republicans. Everything Biden does seems to cause them to hyperventilate with outrage.
(We shudder to imagine their health were Biden to do any of the things Trump actually did in office.)
So you can only guess what’s been trending on Twitter/X. Yes, that’s right. The Right is off to the races with accusations that this proves their fantasy constructions about Bad Joe Biden because here is the proof that he is giving Iran $6 billion.
Where did this hot take come from? Monday evening Republican Senators like Tom Cotton claimed this was “shameful” and Chuck Grassley claimed “US to be blackmailed into paying $6B for hostages which will help indirectly finance the number 1 foreign policy of Iran: terrorism.”
Bear in mind that this argument about funding terrorism is coming from a party led by a man who incited a deadly domestic terrorist attack against his own country, whom they continue to support and enable to fundraise off of the deadly lie that he won an election while they also enable the lie that Trump’s supporters didn’t actually commit a terrorist attack on 1/6, even though it was characterized that way by Director Wray.
In reality, the funding is supposed to be restricted to “humanitarian trade,” according to National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson.
These criticisms were soon followed by a main source of disinformation weighing in on Tuesday, which then trended on Twitter/X. Republican front-runner Donald Trump posted to his Truth Social media the following misinformation, “So, lets get this straight! We did a hostage TRADE with Iran. We gave them 5 very tough, smart people that they desperately wanted. We likewise got back 5 people BUT, we also gave them 6 BILLION DOLLARS! How much of a kickback does Crooked Joe Biden get? Does anyone realize how much money 6 Billion Dollars is? When I was President, I got back 58 hostages for ZERO money. Remember Pastor Brunson? It sets a TERRIBLE precedent. Republicans, call out the 25th Amendment, NOW! Biden is INCOMPETENT!”
Yes, that’s right. The man who incited an insurrection against his own country after he lost an election to Joe Biden resulting in calls for him to be barred from the ballot is calling for Biden to be removed from office over something Trump is misrepresenting.
The U.S. did NOT give Iran 6 billion dollars. The money is from releasing frozen Iranian funds. Congress has been briefed about this as well, as detailed in Laura Rozen’s Diplomatic.
Rozen noted that the prisoner release deal “looks like it could occur as early as next week” but “The State Department declined to provide a date for when it anticipated that the five Iranian Americans, including businessmen Siamak Namazi, 51, and Emad Sharghi, 59, and British-born businessman and wildlife conservationist Morad Tahbaz, 67, might be allowed to leave Iran. The five Americans, deemed wrongfully detained by the State Department, were moved from Iranian prison to a less restrictive house arrest situation in an Iranian hotel in an interim step towards their release last month.”
Trump also personally knows of some of these prisoners, because a family member begged him to get them released. However, Trump’s rejection of the 2015 nuclear deal seemed to end any hope of that.
“Trump’s decision Tuesday to abandon the 2015 nuclear deal could have serious consequences for five Americans known to be held in Iran, including the Namazis. While the U.S. already lacked formal relations with Iran, Trump’s scuttling of the agreement has enraged Tehran and makes the sort of diplomatic dialogue that can lead to prisoner releases very unlikely in the near future,” Politico reported in 2018.
From that same report, it was highlighted that the family member pointed out to Trump aides the Republican’s October 2016 tweet claiming, “Well, Iran has done it again. Taken two of our people and asking for a fortune for their release. This doesn’t happen if I’m president!”
Indeed, it didn’t happen and the Namazis were not released under Trump’s presidency.
Trump has also made it a habit to criticize Biden for prisoner swaps, although he himself made a lot of them, causing Fact Check to conclude, “Criticizing the Biden administration’s recent prisoner swap of Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout for WNBA star Brittney Griner as “a one-sided disaster,” former President Donald Trump wrongly boasted that his administration “got 58 hostages released from various hostile countries without paying any money, or giving up anything.”
There are reports that Trump agreed to pay North Korea $2 million for the return of Otto Warmbier, so the ex-president’s claim that he never agreed to pay for the return of hostages is dubious at best.
In fact, several of the deals resulting in the release of Americans held hostage or being wrongfully detained abroad came as a result of prisoner swaps during Trump’s time in office.” They also noted, “Whelan, a former Marine, was detained in Russia in 2018, while Trump was president.”
Trump made this an administrative priority and it is one front on which he had some success. But he negates this success when he exaggerates his own accomplishments while diminishing those of others, leaving out the nuance and difficulty in prisoner negotiations — and in this case, he is completely misleading people.
Biden did not give Iran 6 billion dollars. The waiver is based on an agreement from August.
Another day, another wash of disinformation to swat away. Former president and four times indicted criminal defendant Donald Trump is poisoning the well at every turn and blanketing the nation with as many lies as he can cram in to a day, because that is how he operates generally and especially when under pressure.
Prisoner negotiations are never pretty and it’s easy to criticize them until you meet the family members. All of these stories are about real people who are imprisoned in a foreign country. While Republicans might have some points, Donald Trump only served to highlight how disingenuous their criticism tends to be these days with his huge red flag of disinformation.