Not ‘Ransom’ – ‘Leverage’? Fox’s James Rosen Grills State Dept Spox Over $400M Iran Payment

Screen Shot 2016-08-18 at 5.06.17 PMAt the State Department briefing Thursday morning, Fox’s James Rosen grilled Department spokesperson John Kirby over a report in the Wall Street Journal that the $400 million payment to Iran had been contingent on the release of American prisoners — in apparent contradiction to what Kirby had told reporters weeks ago.

When Rosen asked repeatedly if there was anything in the story Kirby would “dispute on factual grounds,” Kirby demurred and claimed that the State Department “completed multiple strands of diplomacy,” had done everything “above board,” and used the outstanding issue of the money already owed to Iran in order to exert “maximum leverage” in negotiations.

“Just to return to my question, is there anything in the Wall Street Journal story that you would dispute on factual grounds?” Rosen asked again.

Kirby would only say that he hadn’t wanted in earlier briefings to get bogged down in the “tick-tock” of the negotiations, and that withholding the money until prisoners was released was a matter of “maximum leverage” and not a “ransom” or “quid pro quo” (as it has been characterized by other reports). “There’s really nothing new here,” he claimed.

Watch the exchange above, via C-SPAN

Sam Reisman (@thericeman) is a staff editor at Mediaite.

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