Trump backtracks from false Iran video claim

August 6, 2016 - 15:9

U.S. Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has backtracked on a claim that he saw video footage of a U.S. cash payment to Iran, BBC reported on Friday.

The Republican nominee had claimed at rallies twice that such a video existed, saying in Maine on Thursday that it was provided by Iranians “to embarrass our president because we have a president who’s incompetent.”

The money was paid at the same time U.S. hostages were freed, but the president said it was a payment linked to the landmark Iranian nuclear agreement.

Trump said the video he saw was of the hostage transfer, not the payment.

The White House announced in January it was making payments to Iran - a total of $1.7bn to settle a decades-old dispute over a failed military equipment deal - as part of the nuclear accord.

The Wall Street Journal this week said $400m of that was delivered in cash, flown to Iran at roughly the same time as four Americans were released in a prisoner exchange.

The timing of the transfer brought attacks from Republicans, including Trump.

President Barack Obama denied any connection between the cash and the prisoner swap, saying: “We do not pay ransom for hostages.” He said the payment had to be in cash because strict financial sanctions precluded other methods.

According to CNN, it was a rare reversal for Trump, who has stood by inaccurate or unproven claims previously -- insisting he’d seen videos of Muslim Americans in New Jersey cheering the September 11, 2001, attacks. His political rise began during the 2012 campaign, when he insisted that Obama release his birth certificate, questioning the President’s American citizenship.

Democratic vice presidential nominee Tim Kaine hit Trump on Friday for the video claim, saying he seems “confused” on CBS’ “This Morning,” in an interview taped before Trump backtracked.

“I have no idea what he’s talking about. It (the video) doesn’t exist. He might be thinking about Iran Contra from like 35 years ago or something like this,” Kaine said.

He pointed to Trump’s recent criticism of Kaine, who Trump said in a late-July news conference “did a terrible job in New Jersey” -- despite Kaine being a governor and senator from Virginia, not New Jersey. Kaine said Trump must have confused him with Tom Kean, who was New Jersey’s governor until 1990.

“He was confusing it with a situation from two or three decades ago. Maybe that’s what he’s doing with this bogus video claim,” Kaine said.

Asked if he thinks Trump is confused, Kaine said: “I absolutely think he’s confused.”

(Source: agencies)