Objections by senior officials from the Department of Justice on sending a plane full of cash to Iran were reportedly overruled by the State Department.
The Obama administration secretly airlifted $400 million in cash in an unmarked cargo plane to the country, coinciding with the release of four detained Americans and the formal implementation of the Iran nuclear deal.
The State Department said the cash payment, the first part of a $1.7 billion settlement on an arms deal between the U.S. and Iran predating the 1979 Islamic Revolution, was not a ransom paid for the hostages.
Though the administration announced the payment at the time, it did not reveal it was $400 million in cash, according to the Wall Street Journal.
The timing and form of the payment reportedly concerned the Justice Department, which thought it would send the wrong message about U.S. policy on hostages.
“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 Journal.
Justice Department officials had also indicated their concerns about how many Iranian prisoners would be freed by the U.S. and the number of sanctions violations cases that would be dropped in the agreement. The State Department overruled most of these objections at the time, the Journal reported.
In a statement, a spokesman said the Justice Department “fully supported the ultimate outcome of the Administration’s resolution of several issues with Iran,” including the arms deal settlement itself and the release of the hostages. The spokesman also said the agency would not comment on “internal interagency deliberations.”
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