A new theory is circulating online in the wake of Hamas’ attack on Israel: that President Joe Biden funded the attack.
Critics point to the prisoner swap the U.S. reached with Iran in August. Under the terms of the agreement, five jailed Americans were released in exchange for the unfreezing of $6 billion of Iranian funds.
According to Secretary of State Antony Blinken, “not a single dollar has been spent” of the unfrozen funds and reiterated the condition that the $6 billion may only be used for humanitarian purposes.
But critics are nonetheless skeptical that Iran did not feel emboldened by the unfreezing of funds and even accused Iran of giving the money directly to Hamas.
“Less than three weeks ago, President Biden delivered $6 billion in funds to Iran,” Eric Trump said on Monday. “This is the result,” sharing an old video that wasn’t from the recent attack.
Former President Donald Trump on Monday shared a caricature of himself as Uncle Sam with text overlay that read “Trump was right about everything.”
The image came with a repost of a three weeks-old post in which Trump said the prison swap deal set a terrible precedent.
“Buckel up, you are going to see some terrible things start to happen,” he wrote at the time. “The 3 years ago highly respected USA has become a laughingstock all over the WORLD.”
Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) echoed the Trumps’ sentiment from his presidential campaign account, arguing that the $6 billion “created a market for our adversaries to take even more Americans hostage.”
The State Department said Monday that at least nine Americans were among the more than 700 killed in Hamas’ surprise attack on Saturday. Multiple officials have stated that Americans were also among those taken hostage.
Other Republicans pushing blame onto the Biden administration over the $6 billion to Iran include Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), who has called on Biden to refreeze the funds, and Rep. Mike Lawler (R-N.Y.), who said Saturday that “these terrorists have been emboldened by the Biden Administration’s failed policies of appeasement towards Iran with a $6 billion cash giveaway and the vile anti-Semitic rhetoric of certain Members of Congress, whose contempt for Israel is palpable.”
In an interview with Lawler on MSNBC on Sunday, host Jen Psaki pushed back against his claims.
“The $6 billion is part of a deal to bring five prisoners home. It’s not U.S. taxpayer money,” Psaki said. “It’s still being held in a secure bank account in Doha and each transaction will be monitored by the U.S. Treasury Department at a cent of it has been spent.”
She later reiterated that “the funding does not go to Iranian hands” but rather “to approved third-party vendors who provide humanitarian support.”
Although the release of the funds was conditioned on it being used for humanitarian purposes, several critics have doubted its efficacy.
“Whether you want to say it is to purchase food and clothing and other humanitarian relief, the bottom line is money is fungible and you are freeing up other resources they would otherwise have needed to spend on such efforts and they are the greatest state sponsor of terrorism,” Lawler said on MSNBC.
Former Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney similarly stated on X that “money is fungible,” and argued that “it is ludicrous to claim the Iranians can only use the $6 billion for humanitarian purposes.”
“The Biden Administration should never have given Iran access to these funds,” Cheney added. “They should immediately rescind access and stop appeasing the terrorist regime in Tehran.”
The accusations come against the backdrop of a Wall Street Journal article that claimed Iran greenlit the attack on Israel, which faced significant pushback online.