An incomprehensibly boring controversy emerged earlier this week after the Wall Street Journal published a poorly-structured piece about Iran involving the return of frozen Iranian funds in the form of cash, which coincided with the release four detained Americans. Naturally, this triggered Donald Trump’s paranoid imagination, and he began ranting about watching a “top secret” video, leaked by the Iranian government, of an airplane covertly delivering the cash. He described the footage as having been shot at a “perfect angle, nice and steady,” which could only have been the work of Iranian state media.
“I’ll never forget the scene this morning and remember this, 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, right, $400 million in cash. How does a president do that? How do you do that?” he said at a campaign rally.
“Now here’s the amazing thing. Over there where that plane landed, top secret, they don’t have a lot of paparazzi, you know the paparazzi doesn’t do so well over there, right, and they have a perfect tape done by obviously a government camera, and the tape is of the people taking the money off the plane, right,” Trump continued. “That means in order to embarrass us further Iran sent us the tapes, right. It’s a military tape. It’s a tape that was a perfect angle, nice and steady. Nobody getting nervous because they are going to be shot, because they are shooting a picture of money pouring off of plane.” The Iranians, Trump said, released the video “so that we will be embarrassed.”
In fact, they did not. The video Trump saw was not shot in Iran, but Switzerland: The hostages—journalist Jason Rezaian; former U.S. Marine Amir Hekmati; Christian pastor Saeed Abedini; and Nosratollah Khosravi-Roodsari—are shown disembarking a plane at night in Geneva. From the Washington Post:
The Washington Post asked Trump’s staff to explain what Trump was talking about and emailed a link to a Fox News clip that showed the January footage from Geneva, asking if that was the video the nominee saw.
“Yes,” spokeswoman Hope Hicks responded in an email. “Merely the b-roll footage included in every broadcast.”
Hicks has yet to respond to a follow-up email asking why Trump thought the footage showed a money transfer and not the widely watched prisoner swap, and why Trump said it was recorded by the Iranian government.
Trump emphatically admitted to the mistake in a tweet sent Friday morning. This is, apparently, the first mistake he has admitted to since telling the New York Times’ Maureen Dowd in April that if he could do it again he wouldn’t retweet an unflattering photograph of Heidi Cruz.