Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) defended his previous comments in which 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 aimed 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. “[$6 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, a competitor in the Republican presidential primary, has been vocally critical in recent weeks of the Biden administration’s earlier release of $6 billion in frozen Iranian funds following Israel’s war with Hamas, an organisation that the United States and other countries recognise as terrorist.
Five unjustly detained American citizens were released last month when the Biden administration consented to unfreeze $6 billion in frozen Iranian cash. In doing so, the Biden administration pardoned five Iranians and waived all other bank regulations to enable the transfer of $6 billion in revenues from the sale of Iranian oil, which had been blocked in South Korea, to a bank in Qatar.
After Hamas, an organisation backed by Iran, carried out an unexpected attack on Israel earlier this month that resulted in the deaths of over 1,400 people, the majority of whom were civilians, and thousands of injuries, the $6 billion transaction faced further criticism. Iran has consistently supported Hamas.
The Iranian monies were only allowed to be used for humanitarian purposes, according to U.S. officials, although some think Iran transferred other resources to Hamas in anticipation of the financial infusion.
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 No. 1 state sponsor of terrorism in the world. Yes, it creates complicity.”
Although the person who “pulls the trigger” is ultimately accountable, Scott contended that Biden is not “released” from “being complicit and responsible in what we’re seeing.”
In response to increasing pressure from a number of politicians, including Scott, to freeze the payments, the United States and the government of Qatar came to an arrangement earlier this month to prevent Iran from obtaining the $6 billion.
Scott has always backed American sanctions against Iran. He and a bipartisan group of senators sponsored the Solidify Iran Sanctions Act earlier this year, which would permanently impose the Iran Sanctions Act of 1996, a piece of legislation that restricts finance to Iran’s energy industry.