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Early Friday morning, the unthinkable happened. Donald Trump, the Republican Party’s 2016 presidential nominee, admitted an error.
The real estate mogul is typically not one to back away from mistakes, because apologies are the exclusive province of low-energy cucks. However, after his claims of seeing video footage of Iranians unloading pallets of cash sent from the United States received widespread push-back as impossible, the former Celebrity Apprentice host recanted one of his statements.
Earlier in the week, the Wall Street Journal broke a story about how the Obama administration had covertly coordinated an airlift of $400 million in cash delivered to Iranian government. The administration claimed that the money was the first payment in a $1.7 billion settlement over arms purchased from the United States by Iranian dictator Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi in 1979 but never delivered due to the Islamic revolution that deposed the Shah from power. The settlement over the arms deal was struck the same week as the two nations signed a historic nuclear-control agreement.
Since the timing of the payment, which occurred in January, coincided with the release of four American citizens detained in Iran, it sparked criticism that the multi-million payment amounted to a prisoner ransom, which the United States has an official policy of never paying.
During a speech on Wednesday, Trump recounted watching video of the plane full of cash being unloaded in Iran that was filmed an distributed by the Iranian military as part of an attempt to “embarrass” the United States.
“I’ll never forget the scene this morning. Iran—I don’t think you’ve heard this anywhere but here—Iran provided all of that footage, the tape, of taking that money off that airplane,” Trump told a crowd in Daytona Beach, Florida. “Over there, where that plane landed, top secret, they don’t have a lot of paparazzi, you know,” Trump explained. “The paparazzi doesn’t do so well over there, you know? And they have a perfect tape, obviously done by a government camera, and the tape is of the people taking the money off the plane. It’s a military tape. It’s a tape that was a perfect angle, nice and steady.”
Some commentators initially worried that the video Trump was talking about was classified footage that he had been shown from the top-secret intelligence briefings major party presidential nominees receive; however, according to Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort, those briefings had not yet started.
Eventually, a Trump campaign spokesperson said Trump had misidentified b-roll footage, as used in the Fox News clip embedded below, from the original prisoner transfer as showing a cash transaction.
When the Daily Beast asked national security officials about Trump’s claim, they literally could not contain their laughter.
Trump later admitted the error on Twitter.
The plane I saw on television was the hostage plane in Geneva, Switzerland, not the plane carrying $400 million in cash going to Iran!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 5, 2016
In some ways, the error is to be expected. Trump is a very busy guy. Running for president is a non-stop endeavor. But Trump is also a cable news addict—as evidenced by the five times he interrupted an interview with the Washington Post to watch a segment playing on Fox News, which was turned on in the background.
Trump was probably just multitasking and missed a detail—it happens to people all the time. Trump admitting a mistake, well, that’s an occurrence less frequent.
Aaron Sankin is a former Senior Staff Writer at the Daily Dot who covered the intersection of politics, technology, online privacy, Twitter bots, and the role of dank memes in popular culture. He lives in Seattle, Washington. He joined the Center for Investigative Reporting in 2016.