Scarborough Blasts Obama for Being ‘Condescending’ to Media While Lying About Iran Deal

During a press conference on Thursday with State Department spokesman John Kirby, it came to fruition that in January of 2016, the Obama administration used an unmarked cargo plane to airlift $400 million worth of cash to Iran in exchange for four American hostages. Earlier in August, President Obama coyly suggested this wasn’t some “nefarious” or “secret” deal. Friday on Morning Joe, co-host Joe Scarborough had harsh words for Obama, insisting he was “indignant” while “telling deliberate untruths.”

While Obama contended “we announced these payments in January,” up until yesterday the administration maintained that the timing of the payment was “coincidental” with the release of four American hostages and simply a settlement from a decade's old legal dispute from the two countries. As Scarborough pointed out, Obama was “dissembling and arrogant at the same time.”

PRESIDENT OBAMA: We announced these payments in January. Many months ago. There wasn't a secret. We announced them to all of you. Josh did a briefing on them. This wasn't some nefarious deal. And it wasn't a secret. We were completely open with everybody about it and it was interesting to me how this became a story. Point number two, we do not pay ransom for hostages. 

SCARBOROUGH: The president. It's interesting how indignant the president was while he was telling deliberate untruths, as the Soviet Union would say.

MICHAEL STEELE: Yes.

SCARBOROUGH: He is dissembling and arrogant at the same time.

STEELE: At the same time.

SCARBOROUGH: Saying how dare you. What is, it was just, it was so condescending to the media while not telling the truth.

What was most telling materialized yesterday at John Kirby’s press conference, where he was asked point blank whether the $400 million payment was contingent on the prisoner release.

JAMES ROSEN: So if it has leverage on the release of the Americans, then there’s a direct connection between these two events you're now telling us, right?

KIRBY: I’m saying the events came together simultaneously. But obviously when you're inside that 24-hour period and you already now have concerns about the end game in terms of getting your Americans out. It would have been foolish and prudent irresponsible for us not to try to maintain maximum leverage. 

ROSEN: In basic English you’re saying that you wouldn't give them the $400 million in cash until the prisoners were released. Correct? 

KIRBY: That's correct. 

Of course actor and MSNBC contributor Donny Deutsch injected flippancy into the segment, joking that it’s like when you “go to a restaurant, want a good table, and put $20 in the maître d’s hand.” Alternatively, Scarborough was less than amused, and Michael Steele hit the nail on the head: they got caught in a lie.

SCARBOROUGH: Yeah, $400 million. It's called a ransom payment where you're actually rewarding the Iranians for being the thugs that they are, the thugs that they've always been, and being at epicenter of terrorism since 1979. And yes, you are rewarding them for taking hostages and then lying about it. 

STEELE: I think the president said it best himself about another issue once regarding some catching Republicans saying something that was out of sorts and he said if it sounds like a duck, and walks like a duck, this is the duck right here. And they got caught in the lie. Not going to sit here and tell the American people this is the leverage. This is about exactly what the reporter was pressing him on. 

It is out of character for MSNBC to target Democrats with such a scathing rebuke, and one can only hope Scarborough stays on top of this until the Obama administration confesses they were in fact telling “deliberate untruths” about the $400 million ransom payment to Iran. 

View Full Transcript Here:

08-19-16 MSNBC Morning Joe
06:33:58 AM – 06:41:07 AM

KAY: The Obama administration is acknowledging that $400 million in cash paid to Iran was used as leverage and was timed the release of four American prisoners. Until yesterday, the administration maintained that the timing of the payment was coincidental with the timing of a settlement from a decade's old legal dispute from the two countries. Here is the president speaking just two weeks ago. 

PRESIDENT OBAMA: We announced these payments in January. Many months ago. There wasn't a secret. We announced them to all of you. Josh did a briefing on them. This wasn't some nefarious deal. And it wasn't a secret. We were completely open with everybody about it and it was interesting to me how this became a story. Point number two, we do not pay ransom for hostages. 

SCARBOROUGH: The president. It is interesting how indignant the president was while he was telling deliberate untruths, as the Soviet Union would say.

MICHAEL STEELE: Yes.

SCARBOROUGH: He is dissembling and arrogant at the same time.

STEELE: At the same time.

SCARBOROUGH: Saying how dare you. What is, it was just, it was so condescending to the media while not telling the truth, Katty. 

KAY: Being economical with the truth I think is the expression. 

SCARBOROUGH: Is that, is that—

STEELE: He’s very economical. Yeah.

SCARBOROUGH: Yeah. Other words for it. 

KAY: Earlier this month, state department spokesman John Kirby tweeted that reports of a link between the prisoner release and a payment to Iran are completely false, but then came yesterday when Kirby said this. 

JAMES ROSEN: The payment was contingent on their release.

JOHN KIRBY: What I'm saying is—

ROSEN: Right?

KIRBY: What I'm saying is that because we had concerns that Iran may renege on the prisoner release, given unnecessary delays already regarding some persons in Iran, as well as some mutual mistrust, we, of course, naturally and should be held at task if we didn't, sought to maintain maximum leverage after the Americans were released.

JAMES ROSEN: So if it has leverage on the release of the Americans, then there’s a direct connection between these two events you're now telling us, right?

KIRBY: I’m saying the events came together simultaneously. But obviously when you're inside that 24-hour period and you already now have concerns about the end game in terms of getting your Americans out. It would have been foolish and prudent irresponsible for us not to try to maintain maximum leverage. 

ROSEN: In basic English you’re saying that you wouldn't give them the $400 million in cash until the prisoners were released. Correct? 

KIRBY: That's correct. 

DONNY DEUTSCH: Hey, look, what is the big deal. Like you go to a restaurant, you want a good table, you put 20 in the maître d’s hand, it’s the same thing! Not a big deal. 

SCARBOROUGH: Thank you so much. Yeah $400 million. It's called a ransom payment where you're actually rewarding the Iranians for being the thugs that they are, the thugs that they've always been and being at epicenter of terrorism since 1979. And yes, you are rewarding them for taking hostages and then lying about it. 

STEELE: I think the president said it best himself about another issue once regarding some catching Republicans saying something that was out of sorts and he said if it sounds like a duck, and walks like a duck, this is the duck right here. And they got caught in the lie. Not going to sit here and tell the American people this is the leverage. This is about exactly what the reporter was pressing him on. 

KAY: I think if the administration had come out right at the beginning and we were holding $400 that we owe to the Iranians. We had to give them that money. We were going to keep that money until those prisoners were on the plane. We were going to use maximum leverage. I actually think that would have been fine and as a policy makes total sense. 

DEUTSCH: Yeah that’s a good point.

KAY: Now we could have a debate about whether America should relax its policy on negotiating for hostages or ransom for hostages, or whatever. But I think I they’d come out—I think their problem is exactly those clips that we showed. 

SCARBOROUGH: The president’s performance.

KAY: The president denying it and now having to say it. If you think it through, it makes sense. 

DEUTSCH: It was a good way to tee it up, you're right. 

SCARBOROUGH: Yeah.

KAY: Why not do that?

KASIE HUNT: There's no new money here. I mean, it's not as though the administration said hey, we're going to put more money on the table in an attempt to get these hostages back. But now they're caught in this back and forth where they say the defense can come together simultaneously. But oh by the way we sought to retain maximum leverage.

KAY: They could have made a virtue out of this and said, of course, we were only give them back that payment once our prisoners were on the plane. 

SCARBOROUGH: Right and again, you're right. They could have done that. But you, not only had the president denying that there was an exchange, you had him basically rubbing reporters' nose in the dirt saying how could you be so foolish, come on, stop being so dumb. 

KAY: There's nothing here. 

SCARBOROUGH: There’s nothing here and quite frankly, I'm shocked. By the way, I'm shocked. Donald Trump instead of talking about his golf course in Scotland, last night actually took news of the day and talked about it last night. 

DONALD TRUMP: We now know from the state department, just announced, that president Obama lied about the $400 million in cash that was flown to Iran. He said, we don't pay ransom, but we did. He lied about the hostages openly and blatantly, just like he lied about Obamacare. Hillary Clinton owns president Obama's Iran policy. One more reason she can never, ever be allowed to be president. 

SCARBOROUGH: Meanwhile, the state department can't figure out, they say, who edited a video of a news conference that was posted online. The exchange centered on whether a previous spokeswoman had lied to reporters about secret, direct talks with Iran. In May, Fox News reporter James Rosen discovered that a September 2013 exchange that he had with spokeswoman Jen Psaki had been deleted. After the legal adviser interviewed more than 30 employees, spokesman John Kirby said we're confident that the video of the briefing was deliberately edited. What we were not able to determine was why the edit was made in the first place. It was inconclusive. The state department initially blamed the edit on a clich. What a convenient glitch. How many minutes in Nixon's tape? What was it, eight? 

STEELE: Eight.

DEUTSCH: Same glitch. 

SCARBOROUGH: Yeah. They say there is no evidence to suggest it was made with the intent to conceal information from the public. No, of course not. A group is actually suing over the records about the video's editing. 

Tell the Truth 2016 Campaign Watch Campaigns & Elections 2016 Presidential Liberals & Democrats MSNBC Morning Joe Video Government & Press Donny Deutsch State Department Joe Scarborough James Rosen Katty Kay Barack Obama Michael Steele
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