‘Disingenuous To The Extreme’: Reporter Leaves Biden Spox Stammering To Explain Iran Money Transfer

[Screenshot/State Department briefing]

Nicole Silverio Media Reporter
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Associated Press diplomatic writer Matt Lee left a State Department official stammering to explain President Joe Biden’s administration’s transfer of $6 billion in exchange for five American hostages in Iran.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken signed a blanket waiver Friday to transfer $6 billion in seized Iranian funds to be transferred from South Korea to Qatar, the country responsible for giving the funds back to Iran, to bring five Americans home from Iran.

Lee questioned why it took so long to finalize these waivers, to which State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said Iran had access to the funds and had been able to “spin down” the accounts without any restrictions during former President Donald Trump’s administration. Miller said the administration placed restrictions on the funds so they could only be used for humanitarian purposes.

Lee suggested the transfer will allow Iran to use the funds for different uses other than humanitarian purposes.

“I do recognize that there are tough choices involved here, and the secretary has been forthright about this, he’s been upfront about this, the president has been upfront about this. There are tough choices involved in bringing home American citizens, but the president and the secretary have decided that their first priority is to bring these American citizens home and that’s why we agreed to this arrangement to do that,” Miller said.

“You’re not suggesting that somehow these restrictions impact fungibility of these funds,” Lee said. (RELATED: Trump Torches ‘Incompetent’ Biden’s $6 Billion Iranian Hostage Deal) 

“No,” Miller responded. “I don’t agree, say that again.”

“So If I spent one dollar,” Lee began to explain.

“What—I,” Miller stammered as Lee explained his question. “So, so where that analogy breaks down is no one has given Iran a dollar here. These are Iran’s funds. This is Iranian money. What you just said, if I give you a dollar.”

Lee then accused the White House talking points of being “disingenuous to the extreme” by feeling the need to say they are not using U.S. taxpayer money.

“There is no suggestion by anyone, even the critics, unless they are completely uninformed critics, that this is U.S. taxpayer money and no one has said that, that I’m aware of, and if they have, then they’re wrong. No one is saying that. So that is like a straw man argument that you guys knock down all the time saying this is not U.S. taxpayer money.”

“Can I interrupt? Can I interrupt? I hesitate to ask to interrupt because you interrupt me all the time. I don’t really mind. It is not a straw man argument only that if you perused Twitter last night, you will find a number of elected officials who talk about how the United States is giving Iran money, which we are not doing. It is Iran’s money. There are people who are claim[ing] that we are giving money, and that is not ours.”

“Yeah, but you’re making it easier for them to get it,” Lee said.

“I’m taking issue with the specific words,” Miller said. “You just referred to it as a straw man. There are a lot of people who have referred to that.”

The Obama administration sent $400 million in cash to Iran in return for the release of four hostages on the day the Iranian Nuclear Deal was implemented.