Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) defended his previous comments where he alleged that President Biden has “blood on his hands,” in the wake of Hamas’s deadly attacks on Israel, claiming he does not regret the comment squared at the White House’s prisoner swap with Iran last month.
Asked on ABC News’s “This Week,” if he regrets the comment, Scott said, “I don’t actually, I’m a happy warrior without any question. But we are now in the midst of a conflict, and so the warrior requires responsibility to start at the top.”
“When you think about the fact that the weakness of Joe Biden attracts conflict around this world, and frankly, the negotiations with Iran…was specifically [what] I was talking about,” Scott continued. “Six billion for hostages only creates a bigger market for Americans abroad.”
When “This Week” co-anchor Jonathan Karl tried to interject, Scott continued, “Let me finish, Jon. That money — we know Hamas’s first thank you was to Iran. Ninety percent of their money comes from Iran. Put those pieces of the puzzle together. That’s why the administration froze those dollars just last week.”
Scott, also running in the Republican presidential primary race, has been vocally critical in recent weeks over the Biden administration’s previously released $6 billion in frozen Iranian funds in the wake of Israel’s war with Hamas, which is recognized as a terrorist organization by the U.S. and other countries.
Last month, the Biden admisntration agreed to unfreeze $6 billion in frozen Iranian funds in exchange for the freedom of five wrongfully detained American citizens. In doing so, the Biden administration granted clemency to five Iranians and issued a blanket waiver for international banks to allow the transfer of $6 billion of Iranian oil sale proceeds, frozen in South Korea, to a bank in Qatar.
The $6 billion deal came under renewed criticism after Hamas, which is supported by Iran, launched a surprise attack against Israel earlier this month that killed over 1,400 people — mostly civilians and wounded thousands of others. Iran is a longtime backer of Hamas.
U.S. officials claim the Iranian funds, which were restricted to humanitarian use, remained unspent in the wake of attacks, though critics have argued Iran anticipated the influx of cash and moved other resources to Hamas as a result.
Reiterating the U.S. officials claims, Karl suggested Scott’s claim that Biden was “complicit” in Hamas’s attacks is “beyond the pale.”
“There’s no doubt that, when you have President Biden negotiating with the Iranians for the release of hostages — I said this under President Obama as well. When…we paid $400 million for hostages, you are creating a market for American lives to be lost,” Scott said, in reference to Obama’s $400 million cash payment to Iran, which Republicans criticized as amounting to ransom for hostages.
“When you pay $6 billion, do not be surprised when the result of that $6 billion leads to more conflict in the Middle East,” Scott continued. “…I’m saying with great clarity that weakness from the American president, plus the negotiations, leading to terrorist attacks by negotiating with the number one state sponsor of terrorism in the world. Yes, it creates complicity.”
Scott argued that while whoever “pulls the trigger” is primarily responsible, this does not “release” Biden as “being complicit and responsible in what we’re seeing.”
Amidst mounting pressure from several lawmakers, including Scott, to freeze the funds, the U.S. reached an agreement earlier this month with the Qatari government to block Iran from accessing the $6 billion.
Scott has long supported U.S. sanctions on Iran. Earlier this year, he, along with a bipartisan group of senators, introduced the Solidify Iran Sanctions Act (SISA), which would make permanent the Iran Sanctions Act of 1996, which limits funding for Iran’s energy sector.
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