Blinken Defends Condolences for Iranian President Raisi: ‘Normal Course of Business’


Secretary of State Antony Blinken told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Tuesday that offering condolences to Iran for the death of President Ebrahim Raisi in a helicopter crash on Sunday was the “normal course of business.”

The State Department issued a statement of condolences without mentioning Raisi’s brutal legacy, including the executions of thousands of political prisoners in the 1980s, and prosecuting pro-democracy activists more recently.

Raisi was also seen as a hardliner, and suppressed protests by women, including Mahsa Amini, resulting in what Breitbart News’ Frances Martel called “some of the most violent repression of dissidents caught on camera in Iran.”

When Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY) asked Blinken about the State Department’s condolences, Blinken said that it was the “normal course of business,” and did not change the facts about Raisi, or American policy toward Iran.

Later, when Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) followed up with questions about the State Department’s condolences, Blinken conceded that “the Iranian people are probably better off” without him. Asked whether the State Department’s statement of condolences had made that point, Blinken falslely claimed that it had.

The full statement follows:

The United States expresses its official condolences for the death of Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, Foreign Minister Amir-Abdollahian, and other members of their delegation in a helicopter crash in northwest Iran. As Iran selects a new president, we reaffirm our support for the Iranian people and their struggle for human rights and fundamental freedoms.

Sen. Barrasso said that Raisi was “responsible for death, rape, torture — he’s a sworn enemy of the free world.” He called Raisi the “Butcher of Tehran,” and said that the State Department’s condolences had been “a terrible mistake.”

Update: Later, when Blinken testified before the Senate Appropriations Committee, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said that unlike the State Department, he wished condolences to the victims of the late Iranian president.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). He is the author of the recent e-book, “The Zionist Conspiracy (and how to join it),” now available on Audible. He is also the author of the e-book, Neither Free nor Fair: The 2020 U.S. Presidential Election. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.


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