Congress Says AG Lynch ‘Pleads Fifth’ on Secretive Iran Payoffs
When nearly $2 billion in cash payments were handed over to Iran in January and February, President Obama claimed they were nothing more than money due the Iranian government as settlement of a 1979 arms deal that soured following the anti-West revolution that led to the taking of 52 American hostages.
The U.S. held the $400 million down payment on the arms for 37 years, but entered into a side deal with the Islamic government to refund the money as a key part of the nuclear accord that has long been Mr. Obama’s dream.
The initial payment of $400 million came on the same day and virtually simultaneously to the release of several American hostages drawing accusations that the payment was, in fact, a ransom payment.
Additional payments amounting to $1.7 million were categorized as 37 years of interest on that amount.
Obama reiterated the longstanding policy against paying ransom to rescue Americans, but the method of payment – pallets of foreign currency unloaded on an airport tarmac in the middle of the night while the hostages anxiously awaited take off had more of the earmarks of a spy thriller than an above-board international transaction.
Now, Obama’s Attorney General, Loretta Lynch, has refused to respond to questions submitted by Congress about the secret cash payments, effectively “pleading the 5th” according to infuriated lawmakers.
The Fifth Amendment to the Constitution allows the refusal to answer questions to avoid making any statement that might be self-incrimination.
Lynch was presented with a series of questions about the payments by Sen. Marco Rubio (R - FL) and Rep. Mike Pompeo (R - KS) asking not only on how the payments were made, but who approved them in the first place.
Lynch did not provide a response, leaving it to Assistant Attorney General Peter Kadzik who, in turn, refused to answer the questions, instead informing the senators that they are banned from disclosing any details about the payment to the public.
That would be the public that is actually paying the ransom – or rather, the 37-year-old reimbursement and interest payment – to a nation where chanting “Death to America” has become a regular part of their holy day.
Pompeo and Rubio slammed the attorney general’s “non-response” response, writing in a letter to Lynch, ”It is frankly unacceptable that your department refuses to answer straightforward questions from the people’s elected representatives in Congress about an important national security issue,”
Lawmakers with high enough clearance are allowed to view the details contained in classified documents held in a secure facility, but are prohibited from taking notes or having their cellphones with them when they do so.
Lynch’s deputy, Kadzik, admonished the senators, saying that any leak about them could jeopardize diplomatic relations around the world.