Context is everything
As Daniel Drezner reports today in the WaPo, almost all of this information was reported back in January when the asset exchange was made (including the $400 million figure). Both Vox’s Zack Beauchamp and the New York Times’ Michael Shear and David Sanger offer explainers about the transaction. To sum them up:
- Remember, the money that was transferred was always Iran’s money. It’s just that the United States seized Iran’s assets when Iran seized the U.S. Embassy in 1979. Always remember — this is Iran’s money being given back to Iran,;
- By all accounts the United States was going to lose an international legal tribunal ruling on the dispute. The payment prevented having to pay an even bigger penalty (in terms of interest on the $400 million held over 35 years).
- The transfer was not kept secret, but announced in January when the exchange took place. The new information in the WSJ stories are that (a) the transfer was in pallets of cash and (b) DOJ officials were queasy about the optics.
To manufacture a scandal out of whole cloth in a desperate attempt to change the national narrative from disastrous Donald Trump, the Wall Street Journal has taken information that was news 7 months ago, and repackage it as a scope. Lazy reporters jump on the bandwagon because all they have to do is repeat.