Sen. Tom Cotton calls $400M Iran payment "deeply unwise"

Reacting to the news that the United States sent Iran a $400 million payment on the same day the Middle Eastern country released American hostages, Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton called it a "ransom" payment and said the way the money transfer was handled was "deeply unwise."

"It's clear I think to every reasonable observer that the $400 million that day and the remainder of the $1.7 billion was in fact ransom," Cotton said on CBS' "Face the Nation." "It doesn't really matter what Barack Obama says, it matters what the ayatollahs think and what every dictator and terrorist and gangster around the world think."

Referring to President Obama's press conference last week in which he discussed the Iran payment and other national security issues, Cotton said "ransom" payments will encourage other countries or terror organizations to take more American hostages.

"We do not pay ransom for hostages," Mr. Obama said in the press conference, explaining that the money was sent in cash instead of a check or wiring the funds because the U.S. "doesn't have a bank relationship with Iran."

Asked what the next administration should do with regards to Iran, Cotton said the country needs to "walk away" from the Iran deal because Iran isn't holding up its end of the bargain.

"The United States needs to walk away from the deal, which Iran is not upholding anyway, we need to put real sanctions back in place, we need to force Iran to dismantle its nuclear program entirely or face the threat of military force to destroy that program," he said.

Cotton said he would not comment on some of the recent statements made by Republican nominee Donald Trump. The media is "obsessed" with Trump, Cotton said.

"I'm not going to respond to every single thing Donald Trump has to say or that Hillary Clinton says, I'm not going to follow the back-and-forth on the campaign trail," he said. "What's ultimately going to matter in the long term is not who won or lost a week in the campaign but whether the American people are safe."

Cotton added that if Trump and a Republican Congress are elected in November, "America will be safer and stronger in the world, our streets will be safer and our country will be more prosperous."

  • Emily Schultheis

    Emily Schultheis is a reporter/editor for CBS News Digital.