Senior officials from the Department of Justice objected to sending $400 million in an unmarked cargo plane to Iran, but those objections were overruled by the State Department, The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday night.
The money was airlifted to Iran at the same time four American prisoners were released and coincided with the implementation of the Iranian nuclear deal.
The Obama administration says the payment was the first installment payment of a $1.7 billion settlement to resolve a dispute surrounding an arms deal signed just before the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
The Wall Street Journal reported that officials at the Justice Department were concerned with the timing of the payment. “People knew what it was going to look like, and there was concern the Iranians probably did consider it a ransom payment,” one source told the paper.
Top Republicans blasted the Obama administration on Wednesday calling the transfer a ransom payment.
“If true, this report confirms our longstanding suspicion that the administration paid a ransom in exchange for Americans unjustly detained in Iran,” Speaker Paul Ryan said in a statement.
The Trump campaign released a statement blasting the news of the transfer on Wednesday. “This administration has embarrassed our country as no administration has before, going so far as to fund Islamic terror through cash payments to Iran. Nothing less than a full investigation is required, and if email-destroying Hillary Clinton can’t break from Obama on this then she is even more corrupt that anyone imagined.”