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Report: Senior DOJ Officials Warned Obama Admin. About Iran Cash Payment

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"If a private company had done this, this is called money laundering."

President Barack Obama walks to the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, Thursday, April 2, 2015, to speak about the breakthrough in the Iranian nuclear talks. The president heralded a framework nuclear understanding with Iran as an "historic" agreement that could pave the way for a final deal that would leave the U.S., its allies and the world safer. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Senior officials at the U.S. Department of Justice reportedly warned the Obama administration that a secret $400 million cash payment to Iran would look like a “ransom payment.”

WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 27: In this handout photo provided by the White House, President Barack Obama speaks with President Hassan Rouhani of Iran during a phone call in the Oval Office September 27, 2013 in Washington D.C. Getty Images WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 27: In this handout photo provided by the White House, President Barack Obama speaks with President Hassan Rouhani of Iran during a phone call in the Oval Office September 27, 2013 in Washington D.C. Getty Images

The $400 million foreign cash payment from the U.S. occurred as four detained Americans were released from Iranian custody. Several senior DOJ officials reportedly told the Wall Street Journal immediate concerns were sent up the chain of command.

“People knew what it was going to look like, and there was concern the Iranians probably did consider it a ransom payment,” one of the sources said.

The Obama administration claimed the timing of the payment was coincidental and the $400 million payment was part of a bigger $1.7 billion settlement from a failed 1970's arms deal.

However, the secrecy and tactics behind the payment have resulted in harsh criticism from outside observers.

The money was converted to Swiss francs, euros and other currencies and then secretly airlifted to the radical regime.

Reacting to the Wall Street Journal report, columnist Charles Krauthammer said the payment was essentially “money laundering.” A federal statute prohibits the U.S. from providing U.S. dollars to Iran.

“They had to print the money here, ship it over to Switzerland, turn it into Swiss francs and Euros and ship it over to Iran," he said. "If a private company had done this, this is called money laundering. The CEO would be in jail right now."

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