‘That was given to us – has to be – by the Iranians. And you know why the tape was given to us? They want to embarrass our country. And they want to embarrass our president. Because we have a president who’s incompetent,’ said presidential Candidate Donald Trump regarding the $400 million in cash received from the United States to the Iranians – judging from a documentary on Iranian state-run media.
According to the Daily Mail Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has been in a firestorm of controversy since first claiming on Wednesday to have seen ‘secret’ footage of money being offloaded from an aircraft.
He admitted Friday morning on Twitter what his campaign had said more than a day earlier, that he had seen ordinary archival footage of a different plane, carrying American hostages freed from Iran arriving in Geneva Switzerland after the money changed hands.
But it turns out he may have been right without knowing it.
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Iranian state television broadcast this image of a shipping pallet stacked with cash in February as part of a propaganda film framing a January U.S. prisoner swap as a victory for Tehran
The documentary described this plane as arriving in the dead of night with the money, exactly the scenario that Donald Trump was criticized for describing three times this week
The Iranian video was aired February 15 on the state-run Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting television network, as part of a documentary called ‘Rules of the Game.’
A narrator, speaking in Persian, describes a money-for-hostages transaction over video clips of a plane on an airport tarmac in the dead of night and a photo of a giant shipping pallet stacked with what appear to be banknotes.
The federal government shipped what many are calling a ransom payment in Euros and other non-U.S. currencies.
The copy of the documentary footage DailyMail.com obtained is not of high enough quality to determine which nation’s banknotes are depicted.
None of the footage is stamped with a date or time, making it impossible to know when it was shot.
And the broadcaster blurred out one portion of the screen, covering up something resting on top of the mountain of money.
But the documentary begins with a narration saying: ‘In the early morning hours of January 17, 2016 at Mehrabad Airport, $400 million in cash was transported to Iran on an airplane.’
The film describes the Obama administration’s prisoner swap and Iran’s cash windfall from Tehran’s point of view as ‘a win-lose deal that benefits the Islamic Republic of Iran and hurts the United States,’ according to two English-language translations DailyMail.com obtained.
The February Iranian TV documentary also said Republicans including Trump could learn the details of the one-sided prisoner swap in order to damage the eventual Democratic nominee’s chances in the November election
Four Iranian hostages were released on January 17, including a journalist, a pastor and a U.S. Marine, in a cash deal that Republicans are describing as a quid-pro-quo
Trump fell on his sword Friday on Twitter, conceding that he was describing a different plan when he said there was footage of the cash drop – an assertion that turned out to be right
It outlines what Iran’s mullahs promoted at the time as a one-sided transaction loaded with perks for Tehran.
‘The Islamic republic made an expensive offer to the equation: the release of seven Iranian prisoners in the United States, $1.7 billion, and the lifting of sanctions against 16 Iranians who were prosecuted by the U.S. legal system with the unjust excuse of sanctions violations,’ the narrator intones.
‘But this was not all the Iranians’ demands. Lifting sanctions against Sepah Bank was added to Iran’s list. All of this, in return for the release of only four American citizens: a win-lose deal that benefits the Islamic Republic of Iran and hurts the United States.’
Among the four freed Americans were Washington Post journalist Jason Rezaian, pastor Saeed Abedini and U.S. Marine Amir Hekmati.
The Trump campaign did not respond to a request for comment.
The White House was quick to insist on Thursday that the Obama administration had not paid for their release.
‘Let me be clear: The United States does not pay ransom, White House press secretary Josh Earnest said, questioning the motives of Republican who were ‘falsely accusing us of paying a ransom.’
The propaganda film was shown a month after the January prisoner release in Iran but was unknown in the West until Friday. It described the swap as ‘a win-lose deal that benefits the Islamic Republic of Iran and hurts the United States’
Trump first raised eyebrows Wednesday in Daytona Beach, Florida when he described video footage shot of the cash-drop shot by Iran and released to embarrass the U.S.
A day after his campaign clarified that he had actually seen archival video of the U.S. prisoners arriving in Switzerland
President Barack Obama told reporters: ‘We do not pay ransom. We didn’t here. And we don’t – we won’t in the future – precisely because if we did, then we would start encouraging Americans to be targeted, much in the same way that some countries that do pay ransom end up having a lot more of their citizens being taken by various groups.’
The IRIB network’s producers framed the deal in election-year political terms, boasting that Iran had made the Obama administration vulnerable to Republican finger-pointing if they found out the terms of the deal.
‘The Democrats’ concerns were mostly due to the fact that Obama’s rivals, the Republican presidential candidates, might find out the details of this deal through legal means,’ the narrator says.
That, he adds, might lead them to ‘use them against Democrats at the time of the next presidential election – just like what happened to Jimmy Carter.’
That’s a reference to the 1979-1981 crisis in which 52 American citizens including many diplomats were held hostage for 444 days in Iran.
U.S. President Jimmy Carter tried numerous times to negotiate for the hostages’ release – with Iranian officials stringing him along while days passed, only to call off potential deals at the last minute.
Ronald Reagan’s presidential campaign seized on that weakness and used it as a centerpiece of his successful 1980 run for the White House.
The hostages were sent home on the day of Reagan’s inauguration.
Trump, the Republican Party’s presidential nominee, committed a series of unforced errors this week related to the January swap of money for captives.
He declared Wednesday during a rally in Daytona Beach, Florida that ‘a perfect tape’ of the cash arriving in Tehran was ‘done by, obviously, a government camera, and the tape is of the people taking the money off the plane, right?’
‘That means that in order to embarrass us further, Iran sent us the tapes. Right? It’s a military tape. It was a tape that’s a perfect angle, nice and steady, nobody getting nervous because they’re going to be shot because they’re shooting a picture of money pouring off a plane.’
Trump repeated the claim to a reporter from WPEC-TV in Palm Beach: ‘They have all the camera equipment outside taking pictures of the stuff coming off the plane.’
Amid questions about whether he had disclosed classified information from a national security briefing, his campaign admitted hours later that he had never seen any secret footage and was instead referring to ordinary videotape of the hostages’ safe arrival in Geneva, Switzerland.
President Barack Obama and White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest insisted on Thursday that the $400 million payment wasn’t a prisoner ransom
President Jimmy Carter presided over a series of failed negotiations for the release of 53 American hostages held in Iran during his presidency, and authorized a failed rescue mission in which eight U.S. servicemen were killed in airplane crashes
On Thursday the saga deepened when Trump told a crowd in Portland, Maine the same story he had woven a day earlier.
‘A tape was made, right? You saw that, with the plane coming in. Nice plane. And the airplane coming in. And the money coming off, I guess, right?’ the billionaire Republican asked his audience.
The Iranian footage aired in February shows the pallet of cash sitting still, not in the process of being unloaded.
‘That was given to us – has to be – by the Iranians. And you know why the tape was given to us? They want to embarrass our country. And they want to embarrass our president. Because we have a president who’s incompetent,’ Trump continued.
‘I mean, who would ever think that they would be taking all of this money off of the plane, and then providing us with the tape?’
He appeared to end the controversy Friday morning on Twitter, writing: ‘The plane I saw on television was the hostage plane in Geneva, Switzerland, not the plane carrying $400 million in cash going to Iran!’
Had he waited a few hours more, he may have been able to end his latest gaffe-driven media cycle with an I-told-you-so moment.
One of DailyMail.com’s Persian translators, a native-speaker who lived in Iran until two years ago, said: ‘This is Iranian practice 101. Of course they filmed it, and of course they broadcast it.’
‘I wouldn’t be surprised if someone advising Trump had seen the footage. And I’d be shocked if the White House didn’t know about it the day after it aired.’