Republicans are blasting President Biden for ‘dumb as a rock’ $6 billion prisoner swap allowing two of the Iranian prisoners to remain in the U.S., saying it will only encourage more Americans to get taken hostage.
On Monday, five U.S. prisoners were released by Iran as part of a controversial prisoner swap that unfreezes billions in Iranian assets.
Sen. Tom Cotton called the swap orchestrated by the Biden administration an ’embarrassing appeasement.’
‘Two of the five Iranians released as part of this terrible deal will stay in the U.S. Joe Biden’s embarrassing appeasement not only makes Iran stronger, it makes America less safe,’ he wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter.
Former President Donald Trump took to his Truth Social platform to lament the administration’s deal, calling Biden ‘dumb as a rock’ for the agreement, which he says will encourage future hostage taking.
‘I brought 58 HOSTAGES home from many different countries, including North Korea, and I never paid anything. They all understood they MUST LET THESE PEOPLE COME HOME! Toward the end, it got so that countries didn’t even start the conversation asking for money, because they knew they would not get it.’
The funds were originally frozen in South Korea in 2018 by Trump.
US citizens Siamak Namazi (C-back), Emad Sharqi (bottom-L) and Morad Tahbaz (bottom-R) disembark from a Qatari jet upon their arrival at the Doha International Airport in Doha on September 18, 2023
From left, Morad Tahbaz, Siamak Namazi, and Emad Sharghi walk away arm in arm from a Qatar Airways flight that brought them out of Tehran and to Doha, Qatar, Monday, Sept. 18, 2023.
‘Once you pay, you always pay, & MANY MORE HOSTAGES WILL BE TAKEN. Our grossly incompetent ‘leader,’ Crooked Joe Biden, gave 6 BILLION DOLLARS for 5 people. Iran gave ZERO for 5. He’s Dumb as a ROCK!
Trump was among the first to criticize the agreement when details of it became public on 9/11, an ill-timed announcement that was widely panned for being insensitive.
The Biden administration insists there are ‘guardrails’ on what Iran can spend the money on, but Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi said this week that Iran would decide how the money would be spent.
Iran has been labeled by the State Department as a state sponsor of terrorism, which restricts the U.S. from providing foreign assistance, defense sales and other financial restrictions.
Under the agreement, Doha agreed to monitor how Iran spends the unfrozen funds to ensure the cash is spent on humanitarian goods, such as food and medicine, and not any items under U.S. sanctions.
Only three of the five released U.S. prisoners have been named publicly. They are businessmen Siamak Namazi , 51, and Emad Shargi, 59, and Morad Tahbaz, 67, an environmentalist who also holds British citizenship.
All had been imprisoned in Iran for eight years on what the Biden administration says are unsubstantiated spying charges.
Among the Iranian prisoners is Reza Sarhangpour-Kafrani, a dual U.S.-Iranian citizen who was jailed in February for supplying the Central Bank of Tehran with computer equipment and technology through a front company in the UAE, and, who was caught obtaining equipment that could be used in missiles and electronic warfare.
The White House has defended the deal and Biden praised the return of ‘five innocent Americans’ back to the United States.
‘And as we welcome home our fellow citizens, I once more remind all Americans of the serious risks of traveling to Iran. American passport holders should not travel there,’ said Biden in a statement Monday.
‘Reuniting wrongfully detained Americans with their loved ones has been a priority for my Administration since day one.’
But Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, called it a ‘metaphysical certainty’ that the $6 billion will be ‘used to fund terrorism.’
‘Why? Because Iran is the leading state sponsor of terrorism in the world,’ he said on his Verdict podcast last week in a discussion with co-host Ben Ferguson.
‘This creates an incentive for every tin pot dictator in the world to seize more Americans. They’re setting the going rate at $1.2 billion per American hostage. More Americans will be taken hostage because of this and to do it on the anniversary of 9/11 is disgusting and it’s dangerous.’
House Foreign Affairs Chairman Michael McCaul, R-Texas, told DailyMail.com in a statement that he is ‘very concerned’ with how the detail ‘incentivizes future hostage-taking.’
‘Even though the Administration claims these funds are limited to humanitarian transactions, we all know that transactions are difficult to monitor and that money is fungible. There is no question this deal will free up funds for Iran’s malign activities,’ McCaul continued.
Former President Donald Trump took to his Truth Social platform to lament the administration’s deal, calling Biden ‘dumb as a rock’ for the agreement, which he says will encourage future hostage taking
Siamak Namazi, Morad Tahbaz and Emad Shargi, who were released during a prisoner swap deal between U.S. and Iran, arrive at Doha International Airport, Qatar September 18, 2023
Iranian prisoner swaps Reza Sarhang Pour and Mehrdad Moein Ansari at Doha airport in Doha, Qatar, September 18, 2023
He warned all Americans against traveling to Iran because the ‘risks are far too great.’
Sen. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., slammed Biden for timing the announcement of the prisoner swap on the 9/11 anniversary.
‘The United States should never fund terrorism. Yet, on the anniversary of 9/11, Joe Biden handed over $6 billion to Iran to reward the regime for wrongfully detaining American citizens.’
In a statement to DailyMail.com, she said it is ‘also concerning that Biden is allowing two Iranian prisoners released from jail to remain in the USA.’
‘Under this administration, our enemies are getting stronger.’
Rep. Mark Green – who chairs the House Homeland Security Committee – has called the deal a ‘slap in the face’ to 9/11 victims’ families.
‘President Biden should be ashamed,’ he wrote on X last week.