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Media ‘Fact-Checks’ Trump’s Claim That Obama Sent Iran Money, Gets Facts Wrong
U.S. President Donald Trump speaks from the White House on January 08, 2020 in Washington, DC. During his remarks, Trump addressed the Iranian missile attacks that took place last night in Iraq and said, “As long as I am president of the United States, Iran will never be allowed to have a nuclear weapon.”
Win McNamee/Getty Images

On Monday, President Donald Trump made a statement about the Obama administration’s failures in Iran. Predictably, media “fact checkers” took him to task for criticizing their preferred president, but in doing so, misreported or otherwise misrepresented the facts.

Here’s what Trump said about the previous administration and Iran:

We gave them $150 billion and $1.8 billion and we got nothing. … Look at what they did to John Kerry and to President Obama. Look what happened, where they’re bringing planeloads of cash, planeloads, big planes, 757s, Boeing 757s coming in loaded up with cash. What kind of a deal is that?

The Associated Press then claimed that this deal “did not actually take place.”

Donny Ferguson, a former congressional staffer, pointed out that the AP’s claims about Trump’s statement were “fake.”

“Trump never claimed the money came from the Treasury,” Ferguson tweeted. “This is an old ‘fact check’ trick. The media intentionally misrepresent a factual statement, then ‘fact check’ their own misrepresentation so the reader thinks the original true statement was false.”

The AP claimed in its “fact check” that the money Obama sent to Tehran was actually owed to Iran.

“When Iran signed the multinational deal to restrain its nuclear development in return for being freed from sanctions, it regained access to its own assets, which had been frozen abroad. There was no $150 billion gift from the U.S. treasury or other countries. Iran was allowed to get its money back,” the AP reported.

Except, as Ferguson noted, Trump never said the money came from the U.S. Treasury.

Here’s what the AP claimed in regard to Trumps $1.8 billion figure:

The $1.8 billion refers to a separate matter, also misstated by the president going back to before the 2016 election.

A payout of roughly that amount did come from the U.S. treasury. It was to pay an old IOU.

In the 1970s, Iran paid the U.S. $400 million for military equipment that was never delivered because the government was overthrown and diplomatic relations ruptured. After the nuclear deal, the U.S. and Iran announced they had settled the matter, with the U.S. agreeing to pay the $400 million principal along with about $1.3 billion in interest.

The $400 million was paid in cash and flown to Tehran on a cargo plane. The arrangement provided for the interest to be paid later.

The National Review’s David Harsanyi wrote that this interpretation of what Obama did – parroted by multiple left-wing media outlets – is highly misleading.

We never ‘owed’ the Islamic Republic any money. This is a myth,” Harsanyi wrote. “In 2016, the United States was in the middle of an unresolved dispute in front of the Iran-U.S. Claims Tribunal at The Hague over cash advanced by the Shah for military equipment we refused to deliver after the 1979 revolution. You might recall, this is when Iran began prosecuting its war against the United States, taking hostages, and killing service members.”

“It is unlikely that U.S. would ultimately have been obligated to hand over a single deutschmark to the mullahs. For one thing, the U.S. had its own counterclaims over Iran’s many violations — which, in total, exceeded the amount supposedly ‘owed’ to it,” Harsanyi continued. “Obama, in his obsessive goal of placating Iran to procure a deal, unilaterally dismissed a stipulation held by the previous administration that the United States wouldn’t release funds until other court judgments held against Iran for its terrorist acts on American citizens were all resolved.”

Further, Harsanyi wrote, Obama “never offered any legal justification or accounting for the billions he transferred,” nor did he “ever explain the fiscal calculation of tacking on an extra $1.3 billion in interest payments.”

For good measure, the AP also lamented Trump’s “Boeing 757s” embellishment because the money sent to Tehran was actually on a cargo plane.

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