Rep. Mike McCaul, R-Texas, ridiculed the agreement orchestrated by the Biden administration for Iran to release five Americans in exchange for $6 billion in assets and jailed Iranians. 

“Reagan said trust but verify. I have to use the word naïveté,” McCaul, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said during an appearance on “Fox News Sunday.”

“Look I want to get these Americans home more than anybody. And one of them is a critical asset,” McCaul said. “I agree with that, but we have to go in eyes wide open; $6 billion that is now going to go into Iran and prop up their proxy war terror operations, and their nuclear bomb aspirations. They are now starting to talk about the JCPOA all over again, which in my judgment leads down a course to a legal nuclear bomb in Iran. Prime Minister Netanyahu came out strongly against this. I think we’re going back to the mistakes of the past.” 


McCaul also referenced how the State Department placed President Biden’s envoy for Iran, Robert Malley, on unpaid leave in June amid a review into his security clearance. 

“Our special envoy to Iran to negotiate the JCPOA is under investigation for mishandling classified information,” McCaul said. “He has the most sensitive information as our top negotiator to Iran and to the ayatollah, now under investigation for mishandling classified information – very troubling story.” 

Robert Malley testifies before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in 2022

Robert Malley, Biden administration special envoy for Iran, testifies about the JCPOA during a Senate hearing on Capitol Hill May 25, 2022. (Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images)

Later on the same program, Rep. Adam Smith, D-Wash., defended the prisoner swap agreement, arguing that the billions of funds would be controlled by Qatar. 

Iran has moved five Iranian Americans from prison to house arrest in exchange for billions of dollars frozen in South Korea, U.S. and Iranian officials said Thursday, as part of a tentative deal that follows months of heightened tensions between the two countries. Iran acknowledged that the deal involves $6 billion to $7 billion that were frozen as a result of sanctions. Iranian officials said the money would be transferred to Qatar before being sent on to Iran if the agreement goes through.

The final transfer of the money – and the release of the five detainees – is expected in the next month or so due to the complicated nature of the financial transactions, officials said.

In a statement Friday, Iran’s Ministry if Foreign Affairs said, “The decision on how to utilize these unfrozen resources and financial asserts lies with the Islamic Republic of Iran.” The statement ran counter to the claim that the money would only be released by Qatar to Iran for specific purposes.

GOP calling Iran prisoner swap a ‘bounty’ is ‘factually incorrect’: Rep. Adam Smith Video

Fox News host Shannon Bream noted critics of the agreement said it amounts to an exorbitant ransom payment. 

“But again, it’s not,” Smith said. “Where were those real concerns during the Trump administration when money from a bunch of other countries was being transferred to Iran no strings attached, no prisoners returned? It just doesn’t seem like a legitimate complaint based on the facts of the situation.” 

Mike McCaul chairs House Foreign Affairs Committee

House Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Rep. Mike McCaul trashed the Biden administration’s reported $6 billion prisoner swap deal with Iran. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

“That’s a fundamental misunderstanding of what this money is,” Smith argued, pushing back against former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s criticism that the deal would mean placing a bounty on Americans’ heads. “It’s not a bounty because we’re not paying the money. It’s Iran’s money that was sitting in South Korea.”


“Withheld under sanctions,” Bream interjected, adding clarification. Smith further stated, “It’s not a bounty.” 

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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