‘That Is Not The Argument!’: Reporter Clashes With State Dept. Spokesman About Iran Using Unfrozen Funds To Back Hamas

[Screenshot/U.S. State Department press briefing]

Nicole Silverio Media Reporter
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Associated Press (AP) diplomatic reporter Matt Lee clashed with State Department spokesman Matthew Miller about whether Iran used unfrozen funds to sponsor the terror group Hamas, which killed over 1,000 Israelis in a weekend attack.

President Joe Biden’s administration struck a deal to transfer $6 billion in previously frozen Iranian assets and free several Iranian nationals in exchange for the release of five Americans being held hostage in Iran. The Middle Eastern country helped Hamas plan the attack on Israel weeks in advance, and gave the terrorist organization the green light to launch its attack on Israel the week before, according to a Wall Street Journal report citing senior members of Hamas and Lebanese terror group Hezbollah.

“You guys are saying, yes, maybe that specific dollar with that serial number or that euro with that serial number on it can’t be used to fund terrorism. But the fact of the matter is, and you guys know this, is that it frees up money that Iran has already inside its own country to use for other things so they don’t have to spend that money on these non-sanctioned items,” Lee said.

Miller responded that former President Donald Trump’s administration began the process of allowing the Iranian money to accrue into the accounts in question and that the U.S. has “always taken action” to hold Iran accountable for funding terrorism. He then reiterated the Biden administration’s claim that the $6 billion “can only be used for humanitarian purposes,” that none of it has been spent and that the U.S. retains the ability to re-freeze it at any time.

“But that is not the argument! That is not the criticism you’re getting,” Lee interjected. “The criticism you’re getting is that this frees up money inside Iran that they can use for malign purposes.” (RELATED: ‘Disingenuous To The Extreme’: Reporter Leaves Biden Spox Stammering To Explain Iran Money Transfer) 

“And there is just no evidence that that is accurate,” Miller said.

“Is there evidence that it isn’t accurate?” Lee immediately pushed back. “You say, you say, that there’s no evidence that Iran has used money over the course of the last month since the money arrived in Qatar to send to Hamas. Can you say that? Do you know?”

“Iran has funded terrorism before these accounts were established during the Trump administration,” Miller answered. “They have funded terrorism after these accounts were established in the Trump administration. They will, no doubt, continue to fund terrorism in the future, which is why we have sought to held [sic] them accountable. With respect to this money, it cannot be used for anything but humanitarian purposes, we have strict oversight, we have strict visibility, and if we see it being used for anything else we can shut it down immediately.”

White House national security spokesperson John Kirby told Fox News on Tuesday morning that the $6 billion is being reallocated in “small chunks” and would not be able to fund Hamas. Fox News host Bret Baier pushed back by arguing Iran already had several billions of dollars from its oil exports and could have used that extra money to fund Hamas, to which Kirby replied that the Biden administration has been consistently reviewing Iranian policy.