During a press briefing on Monday, Elizabeth Trudeau, the State Department’s Press Office Director, refused to clarify whether the Navy Sailors taken hostage by Iran earlier this year were released before or after the highly controversial $400 million in cash from the U.S. government arrived in Iran.
As first pointed out by Jack Heretik at the Washington Free Beacon, tensions got high between Trudeau and Associated Press reporter Matt Lee as Lee reportedly pressed Trudeau on the issue that she was trying to evade.
Since the news broke that the U.S. dropped $400 million dollars in cash to Iran on the same day that the Iranian Government freed the U.S. Sailors, many questions have yet to be directly answered by the White House or the State Department on the matter.
Though the White House has repeatedly stated that the cash was not a ransom payment but instead a settlement in a decades long legal dispute between the two countries, the timing of the transaction in exactly in tandem with the release of the hostages is incriminating.
Lee, looking to get some clarification on the matter, jumped right into the press briefing asking about the order of the transactions made that day, which he specified he had asked before.
“Let’s start with seeing if I can get an answer to a question that I asked – that was asked twice last week, having to do with Iran and the $400 million shipment.” Lee continued, “Are you now able to say whether or not the plane with the money landed before the plane with the prisoners took off from Tehran? Because as you may know, since the question was last asked on Thursday, one of the former prisoners said that they had to wait for this other plane, or at least another plane to arrive. Are you able to shed any more light on that?”
Trudeau replied that she wasn’t looking to get into the “tick-tock specifics” on the matter but insisted that “claims that our freed Americans were not allowed to depart Iran until a plane full of cash landed anywhere are false.”
Trudeau continued delivering talking-point style answers before ending with “so I think that answers your question” to which Lee replied with a bit of snark, “Okay. I missed the part where you said that – when the plane arrived.”
After some back-and-forth, Lee wouldn’t let it go saying “I understand that you don’t want to draw any connection between the two things.” He continued, ” I just want to know whether or not the plane with the money landed before the plane with the prisoners took off.”
Trudeau responded, “Yeah, I’m not going to get into a tick-tock. What I do, though, want to disassociate the idea – that you haven’t said but has been in the public narrative – that there was some sort of tie between the two.”
“Yeah, I realize that you guys don’t think there was” Lee replied, “but it seems a very simple question to ask whether or not the plane with the money landed before the plane with the prisoners took off.”
Sticking to her no “tick-tock” narrative, Trudeau replied once more, “I have no exact tick-tock on that. What I do know is that the plane with the Americans was only delayed being – taking off because of logistics that were associated with the people on board.”
Trudeau was also recently criticized while questioned during a May 10th press briefing concerning a controversial edited video found in the archives in which an exchange made between former States Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki and Fox News reporter James Rosen was deleted from the recorded meeting. While Trudeau repeatedly insisted the elimination of the back-and-forth was a “glitch”, State Department Spokesperson John Kirby later came out and admitted someone had actively edited the video.