Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, once again denounced the nuclear deal with Iran as an "illegitimate" agreement following news that President Obama gave the regime $400 million pertaining to an unrelated matter in conjunction with the release of four American hostages.

"It is nothing but a series of bribes and secret agreements that will do nothing to prevent Iran from reaching nuclear capability, yet will provide funding for their sponsorship of terrorism and encourage them to detain more of our citizens. This 'deal' should be ripped to shreds immediately before more damage is done."

President Obama's team denied that the $400 million, flown into the country in cash in various currencies, was a ransom payment. Instead, his spokesman insisted that it was simply the first installment in repaying $1.7 billion that the Iranian regime paid in 1979 for military equipment that was never delivered.

"It was hard for the U.S. to make an argument in this case that we could just keep the money — so what the U.S. did was resolve a longstanding claim at The Hague that saved American people potentially billions of dollars as it relates to the details," White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said during Wednesday's briefing.

Iranian officials insisted on the payment in the context of releasing the prisoners because they "wanted the cash to show they had gained something tangible," according to the Wall Street Journal. Earnest refused to say if the prisoners would have been released without the payment being made.

That has congressional lawmakers alarmed that the payment will look like a ransom to international actors and thus incentivize the kidnapping of more Americans. "I'm outraged to hear that our tax dollars are literally being shipped on cargo planes to a terrorist regime," Rep. Peter Roskam, R-Ill., said Wednesday. "President Obama is so desperate to defend his disastrous Iran policy that he has resorted to ransom payments, effectively putting a price on every American citizen who travels abroad."