Congressman Jeb Hensarling

Representing the 5th District of Texas

Hensarling Grills Obama Administration Officials on Iran Cash Payment

Sep 8, 2016
Press Release

WASHINGTON— Congressman Jeb Hensarling (TX-05), Chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, raised serious questions Thursday about the Obama Administration’s $1.7 billion in cash payments to Iran during a hearing of the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee. Addressing a panel of witnesses from the Obama State, Treasury, and Justice Departments—who only appeared after he threatened them with subpoena—Chairman Hensarling delivered the following opening remarks:

“Any person here today can take out their iPhone or electronic device and google Merriam Webster’s definition of ransom: ‘money that is paid in order to free someone who has been captured or kidnapped.’

“The American people want to know: did this administration pay ransom? Does it meet the legal definition and, if it doesn’t, did the actions of this administration tragically achieve the same end that is to incent terrorists to kidnap American citizens? To put a price on the head of every tourist, soldier, sailor, airman, and marine who serves or visits overseas? Was the cash, cash transaction legal?

“My guess is, if any private citizen had done what this administration did, they would be indicted on money laundering. Instead, the administration calls it ‘diplomacy.’

“Was the cash transaction legal?

“If so, should it be legal?

“And, if perfectly legal, why did the administration go to such great lengths to hide it from the American people?

“Why did it take a Wall Street Journal exposé to bring the true nature of this transaction to our attention?

“Why did I have to threaten subpoenas to get the administration to show up in the first place?

“Did the Iranians demand that this payment be made in cash?

“We have a terrorism finance task force here that knows it is cash, cash transactions that fuel terrorism.

“It is the Obama State Department which has labeled Iran ‘the world’s foremost state sponsor of terrorism.’ It is the President’s Treasury Department that has classified it as ‘a jurisdiction of primary money laundering concern.’

“So why, Mr. Chairman, why were they given $1.7 billion—$1.3 of which was interest, taxpayer money that could have gone to the United States Army but, instead, apparently is going to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard.

“The American people deserve answers.”

For video of Rep. Hensarling’s opening remarks, click here.

For video of Rep. Hensarling’s follow-up questions to the panel, click here.