The Obama administration secretly shipped $400 million in cash to Iran around the time the country released four American prisoners, the Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday.
The money — which consisted mostly of Euros, Swiss francs, and other foreign currencies — was sent to Iran in an unmarked cargo plan in January.
U.S. officials denied that the payment was a ransom for the release of prisoners.
“As we’ve made clear, the negotiations over the settlement of an outstanding claim … were completely separate from the discussions about returning our American citizens home,” said John Kirby, a State Department spokesman.
“Not only were the two negotiations separate, they were conducted by different teams on each side, including in the case of The Hague claims, by technical experts involved in these negotiations for many years.”
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump called the payment a scandal in a tweet early Wednesday morning.
The $400 million payment is the first installment of a $1.7 billion settlement.
“The logistics of this payment — literally delivering a plane full of cash to evade U.S. law — shows yet again the extraordinary lengths the Obama administration will go to accommodate Iran, all while hiding the facts from Congress and the American people,” Rep. Ed Royce (R-California), the Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee said in a statement on Tuesday.
“Hundreds of millions in the pockets of a terrorist regime means a more dangerous region, period. And paying ransom only puts more American lives in jeopardy.”