President Trump is laying blame at the feet of former president Barack Obama. While in office, Obama evidently sidestepped sanctions against Iran and gave them access to our financial system. That was illegal and a massive cover-up ensued. Trump tweeted, “The Obama Administration is now accused of trying to give Iran secret access to the financial system of the United States. This is totally illegal. Perhaps we could get the 13 Angry Democrats to divert some of their energy to this “matter” (as Comey would call it). Investigate!”
The Obama administration sought to give Iran access to the U.S. financial system by sidestepping sanctions kept in place after the 2015 nuclear deal, despite repeatedly telling Congress and the public it had no plans to do so. Senate Republicans are investigating the matter. As Obama tried to set up the Iran deal, he also worked to make sure Iran received their so-called promised benefits without playing into the hands of the deal’s opponents.
Iran got $150 billion in the deal that Obama made with them. They also received $400,000 in exchange for prisoners and another $1.3 billion in cash that Iran claimed was owed to them. This money has allowed Iran to zoom ahead with their nuclear weapons program, massively beef up their military and sponsor terrorism across the globe. And the U.S. got nothing in return. Nothing. Iran will still get their nukes. All of this was predicted as Obama’s administration struck a deal Iran, but they didn’t care. To this day, we don’t know the full story of why this was done.
From The Daily Mail:
“The report by the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations revealed that under President Barack Obama, the Treasury Department issued a license in February 2016, never previously disclosed, that would have allowed Iran to convert $5.7 billion it held at a bank in Oman from Omani rials into euros by exchanging them first into U.S. dollars.”
“If the Omani bank had allowed the exchange without such a license, it would have violated sanctions that bar Iran from transactions that touch the U.S. financial system.”
“The effort was unsuccessful because American banks – themselves afraid of running afoul of U.S. sanctions – declined to participate. The Obama administration approached two U.S. banks to facilitate the conversion, the report said, but both refused, citing the reputational risk of doing business with or for Iran.”
“The Obama administration misled the American people and Congress because they were desperate to get a deal with Iran,” said Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH), the subcommittee’s chairman. Issuing the license was outside the purview of the terms of the nuclear agreement. Under that deal, the U.S. and world powers gave Iran billions of dollars in sanctions relief in exchange for curbing its nuclear program. President Trump is now declaring that the U.S. will pull out of what he described as a “disastrous deal.” The license issued to Bank Muscat stood in opposition to repeated public statements from the Obama White House, the Treasury and the State Department, all of which denied that the administration was contemplating allowing Iran access to the U.S. financial system. A lie?
Immediately after the nuclear deal was signed in July of 2015, then-Treasury Secretary Jack Lew testified that even with the sanctions relief, Iran “will continue to be denied access to the world’s largest financial and commercial market.” Just a month later, one of Lew’s top deputies, Adam Szubin, testified that despite the nuclear deal, “Iran will be denied access to the world’s most important market and unable to deal in the world’s most important currency.” It turned out that was not true.
The Obama administration stated that they decided to grant the license in the spirit of the deal. That included allowing Iran to regain access to foreign reserves that had been off-limits because of the sanctions. They claimed that public comments made by the Obama administration at the time were intended to dispel incorrect reports about nonexistent proposals that would have gone much farther by letting Iran actually buy or sell things in dollars. These same officials spoke on condition of anonymity because many of them are still involved in national security issues.
While relieving of sanctions and issuing of licenses were argued heatedly in Congress, Secretary of State John Kerry and other top aides fanned out across Europe, Asia and the Middle East trying to convince banks and businesses they could do business with Iran without violating sanctions and facing steep fines. “Since Iran has kept its end of the deal, it is our responsibility to uphold ours, in both letter and spirit,” Lew said at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in March 2016, without offering details. During that same time, the AP reported that the Treasury had prepared a draft of a license that would have given Iran much broader permission to convert its assets from foreign currencies into easier-to-spend currencies like euros, yen or rupees, by first exchanging them for dollars at offshore financial institutions.
When questioned by lawmakers about the possibility of granting Iran any kind of access to the U.S. financial system, Obama-era officials never volunteered that the specific license for Bank Muscat in Oman had been issued two months earlier. That’s called lying by omission. Since then, Iran has found other ways to access their money. There’s always a way. Iran would have to go through another country’s currency, but there are a number of countries more than willing to help them.
Trump has exposed these dealings by the Obama administration to help Iran. Now, Congress is getting involved and they will investigate. Should former President Obama be held accountable for his actions here?
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