Ron has been opposed to the Iran Deal all along. The question now is, does Senator Feingold still support the reckless deal after it was revealed that Obama lied about the ransom payment?
When it comes to the Iran cash drop, is ransom by another name “leverage?”
The State Department’s admission Thursday that its controversial $400 million payment to Iran in January was contingent on the release of U.S. prisoners isn’t sitting well with critics of the Obama administration’s détente movement with Iran.
Now Republicans and their campaigns are asking some pointed questions of Democrats who have applauded President Obama’s nuclear deal with the top state sponsor of terrorism.
“President Obama lied to the American people about millions of dollars that was given to Iran in a ransom payment, demonstrating American weakness to our allies and enemies alike,” said Mike Duffey, executive director for the Republican Party of Wisconsin in a statement. “Senator (Russ) Feingold should finally stand with Wisconsin, separate himself from the dangerous Obama-Hillary foreign policy, and condemn the President for lying to the American people.”
The $400 million, dispatched to Tehran in a carefully choreographed exchange, was the down payment of $1.7 million in compensation the administration agreed to pay to Iran to settle an old weapons debt. The settlement, now paid in full, is part of a widely panned deal between the U.S. and Iran that asks the terrorism sponsor to hold off on developing nuclear weapons in exchange for the U.S. lifting long-standing sanctions.
The $400 million payment came on the same day three U.S. prisoners were released and put on a plane carrying them home.
As the Washington Post reported, Kirby’s remarks marked the first time the administration has “acknowledged there was any degree of linkage between separate negotiations for the release of five Americans, including two who left Iran independently, and money paid to Iran in foreign currency piled onto pallets aboard an Iran Air cargo plane in Geneva.”
“Senator Feingold has not only served in the President’s State (Department), he has repeatedly stood behind President Obama’s failed foreign policy,” the Wisconsin GOP said in its statement.
Brian Reisinger, campaign spokesman for Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Oshkosh, pointed to Obama’s defensive position earlier this month when more details of the payment process surfaced.
“We were completely open with everybody about it, and it’s interesting to me that this suddenly became a story again,” Obama said during a news conference at the Pentagon on Aug. 3. “We do not pay ransom for hostages.”
Johnson is facing off against Feingold, D-Middleton, in a rematch of the 2010 campaign, when Johnson sent Feingold packing after 18 years in the U.S. Senate.
Reisinger, as he has done many times, noted that Feingold just days after the ink dried on the nuclear deal in January told WNOV radio in Milwaukee that the agreement was one of the “great things that the president has done.”
Feingold earlier this month told Wisconsin Public Radio that he opposes ransom for hostages or prisoners. Long-standing U.S. policy has prohibited making concessions to hostage-takers.
“Well look, I don’t think there should be ransom for a situation like this,” he said. “I’m against it, and would never support something like that. I don’t have access to exactly what happened here. I’m not just going to accept without any opportunity to look that that’s what happened.”
Johnson’s campaign and the state GOP also has dogged the Democrat for not speaking out about the email scandals surrounding Democratic presidential candidate and former Security of State Hillary Clinton.
“Eight years of politicians like President Obama, Hillary Clinton and Senator Feingold have left Americans less safe, less secure and looking for stronger leadership,” the Republican Party of Wisconsin said.