Earnest: "Certainly Possible" That $400 Million Cash Payment To Iran Was Used For "Nefarious Activities"

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White House spokesman Josh Earnest today accused critics of the Iran nuclear deal of "lying to the American public" for questioning whether a $400 million cash payment to Iran could have been used to fund terrorism.


Related Story: Tense: Obama Administration Refuses To Give Details About Cash Payment To Iran; "Why Is That Relevant?"

"Our incompetent Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was the one who started talks to give 400 million, in cash, to Iran. Scandal!" Trump tweeted Tuesday.

"The U.S. continues to have concerns with some of Iran's nefarious activities," Earnest said at a Wednesday press briefing, but analyses proved that Iran used the money to strengthen its currency, pay off debts, and improve infrastructure. "The president was quite forward leaning in advance of the deal being acknowledged that we know that Iran supports terrorism, we know that Iran supports Hezbollah and the Assad regime, and it certainly is possible that some of the money that Iran has is being used for those purposes too," he noted. "But the bulk of the money has been going to shoring up their economic weakness, exactly how we predicted."

Transcript:

QUESTION: You cited the sanctions on Iran --the banking sanctions on Iran because of concerns about terrorism and all that, that are still in place. There are people who say that handing over a pallet full of cash is actually less secure. That money could be handed off and distributed to terrorists, potentially with even less ability to track, know what is being purchased, be it arms or other things. So was the White House concerned that they were essentially handing the Iranians a pot of untraceable money that is potentially going to fall into the hands of people we don't like who are doing things we don't want them to?

JOSH EARNEST: So let's review, as I mentioned earlier, the U.S. continues to have concerns with some of Iran's nefarious activities. But the CIA director just last week addressed concerns that had been raised by critics of the deal about how money that Iran has received since January has been spent in Iran. I don't want to ruin the surprise here, but the Iranian government has spent the money largely in the way we expected that they would...

It makes sense that when Iran got revenue as a result of the nuclear agreement, they used that money to prop up their currency that had been significantly devalued by the sanctions regime. We also know that when Iran was subject to these sanctions, they were not able to fund infrastructure improvements. Their infrastructure was crumbling! So we know that they used revenue from sanctions relief to start investing in infrastructure...

QUESTION: But specifically, how that cash --that specific pile of cash, literally-- How was it used? Do you know, specifically, how that money was used by the Iranians?

EARNEST: First of all, it is Iranian money. And secondly, what is true from all of the money Iran has received since January --including from sanctions relief-- is much smaller than the hundreds of billions of dollars that critics of the deal predicted. The analysis we've done confirms what we predicted that largely that money was spent for to address the dire economic condition of the nation of Iran.

The president was quite forward leaning in advance of the deal being acknowledged that we know that Iran supports terrorism, we know that Iran supports Hezbollah and the Assad regime, and it certainly is possible that some of the money that Iran has is being used for those purposes too...

But the bulk of the money has been going to shoring up their economic weakness, exactly how we predicted. What has not happened and where the critics of the deal get it wrong. Iran has not enjoyed hundreds of billions in sanctions relief, Iran has not been able to use hundreds of billions of dollars to support terrorism. Those who made that prediction were either badly misinformed or lying to the American public. And I'll leave it to them to explain why their predictions didn't come true.

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