The State Department has confirmed the U.S. used the $400 million payment to Iran as leverage for the prisoners they released in January. From The New York Post:

State Department spokesman John Kirby was asked at Thursday’s press briefing: “In basic English, you’re saying you wouldn’t give them $400 million in cash until the prisoners were released, correct?”

“That’s correct,” Kirby replied.

Kirby continued:

“We deliberately leveraged that moment to finalize these outstanding issues nearly simultaneously,” he said. “With concerns that Iran may renege on the prisoner release, given unnecessary delays regarding persons in Iran who could not be located as well as, to be quite honest, mutual mistrust between Iran and the United States, we of course sought to retain maximum leverage until after American citizens were released. That was our top priority.”

That’s weird. President Barack Obama said something else:

“We do not pay ransom. We didn’t here,” Obama said. “We don’t — we won’t in the future — precisely because if we did, then we would start encouraging Americans to be targeted, much in the same way that some countries that do pay ransom end up having a lot more of their citizens being taken by various groups.”

The timing of the $400 million payment, Obama said, “was, in fact, dictated by the fact that as a consequence of us negotiating around the nuclear deal, we actually had diplomatic negotiations and conversations with Iran for the first time in several decades. So the issue is not so much that it was a coincidence as it is that we were able to have a direct discussion.”

Yesterday, Kemberlee pointed out that new evidence shows the payment acted more like a ransom than an agreed payment. The wall Street Journal reported that the “officials wouldn’t let Iranians take control of the money until a Swiss Air Force plane carrying three freed Americans departed from Tehran on Jan. 17, the officials said. Once that happened, an Iranian cargo plane was allowed to bring the cash back from a Geneva airport that day, according to the accounts.”

Earlier this month, reports surfaced that the Justice Department opposed the timing of the payment due to the image it may portray. The DOJ was correct. Senators do not buy the administration’s explanation.

Now Congress wants to pass legislation that will stop the administration from sending more money to Iran and provide details of this $1.7 billion deal:

“President Obama’s…payment to Iran in January, which we now know will fund Iran’s military expansion, is an appalling example of executive branch governance,” said Sen. James Lankford (R., Okla.), who co-wrote the bill. “Subsidizing Iran’s military is perhaps the worst use of taxpayer dollars ever by an American president.”

CIA Director John Brennan insists Iran has used the money “for development projects” like supporting its own currency, providing “moneys to departments and agencies, build up its infrastructure.”