In a nine-minute, nationally televised speech on Wednesday morning, Donald Trump made a series of false or misleading statements shifting the blame for the ongoing conflict with Iran to the Obama administration. A fact-check by The Associated Press documented Trump’s distortions, including his bogus claim that the Iranian missiles “were paid for with the funds made available by the last administration.”
Trump’s attempt to transfer blame for the Iran crisis onto the Obama administration even strained credulity for a co-host on Fox & Friends, the Fox News morning program that appears to be Trump’s favorite, based on the frequency with which he posts Twitter messages directly reiterating topics discussed on the daily broadcast.
“I don’t love bringing up the previous administration,” Fox & Friends co-host Brian Kilmeade said on Thursday’s program, as quoted by the media-monitoring site Mediaite. “You have got to bring people together as the president and continue to take shots at President Obama three and a half years later doesn’t make any sense.”
While stopping short of holding Trump directly responsible for the Iran crisis, Kilmeade said that “40 years of failed policies” led to the current conflict.
Kilmeade slams Trump for blaming Iran strike on Obama pic.twitter.com/yvryA08ArP— TPM Livewire (@TPMLiveWire) January 9, 2020
In his speech Wednesday, Trump claimed that the Obama administration gave the Iranian regime “$150 billion, not to mention $1.8 billion in cash.” But according to the AP fact-check, “there was no $150 billion payout” from the United States to Iran. The money had always belonged to the Iranian government, but due to economic sanctions, the funds were frozen in foreign bank accounts.
When Iran signed the final multinational agreement to rein in its nuclear program in 2015, the asset freeze was lifted. Additionally, according to the AP, the $1.8 billion payment from the U.S. to Iran was a refund owed to the Persian country by the U.S. government. The refund was for a purchase of weapons in the 1970s that was never delivered.
Trump’s claim that the missiles fired at U.S. troops by Iran on Wednesday were “paid for” by funds “made available” by President Obama was also highly misleading, according to the AP.
“I doubt anyone has the insight into Iran’s budgetary mechanisms to say that this money was used for this purpose,” former high-ranking U.S. diplomat Gerald Feierstein told the news agency.
In his speech, Trump also claimed that the United States is now energy-independent and that “we do not need Middle East oil.” But AP called that statement “premature.” The U.S. imported 23 million barrels of oil in October 2019 alone, an amount that “would not be easy to make up elsewhere,” the fact-check said.
Kilmeade also ripped Trump in December of 2018, when he called the president’s announced pullout of American troops from Syria “irresponsible.”