President Barack Obama’s secret, $400 million ransom payment to Iran was just the tip of the iceberg.
Turns out there was 13 other payouts made before that, according to new reports.
The ransom cash was only a part of the Obama administration payments to Iran made using an obscure Treasury Department account called the “Judgement Fund” — and if so, it represents a direct violation of the U.S. constitution.
The fund is a little-known government cash reserve set aside to pay for legal rulings that go against the government. However, using it to pay foreign governments large sums may be highly illegal.
The revelations were first reported by The New York Sun, which found 13 transfers of $99,999,999.99 the administration apparently made from the fund on January 17th — two days before the Obama administration announced to the public they’d cut a deal with the Iranian government to pay $1.7 billion to settle a legal dispute being considered in The Hague. The payment was exactly $400,000,000.13 shy of the agreed settlement total, which appears to have been wrapped up with Obama’s widely-reported ransom payment.
If proven to be true, these payments would be a direct violation of the Constitution — an offense so serious, Obama could be impeached over it.
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The Judgement Fund exists in a legal gray zone, funded so that Congress doesn’t have to approve every single small judgement against or settlement made by the U.S. government. Dozens, if not hundreds, of small cases are ruled on everyday, so approving each payout would be tedious and cumbersome.
But there’s no gray zone about what the Fund is NOT — it does not exist to make secret, backroom payouts to countries whose leaders call for the death to America.
And it’s not supposed to be a back door to go around Congress.
“No Money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law,” the Constitution reads. It’s an important part of the checks-and-balance system, first put in place by America’s founding fathers.
In other words, the executive branch is expressly forbidden from making payments to foreign entities without the express approval of Congress.
“What makes it so galling is that the administration knows that had the Iran payments been submitted to Congress for approval, they would’ve been turned down,” The New York Post’s Seth Lipsky wrote Thursday. “Majorities in both houses were against the entire Iran nuclear deal — which is why it was treated as an executive, unilateral action and never submitted to the Senate for ratification, as a treaty would have to be.”
The State Department is being very quiet on the issue, refusing to make definite statements. But if Obama knew Congress wouldn’t approve the nearly two billion payout to Iran, and — rather than get their approval as required legally — he secretly raided a remote Treasury fund to knowingly go around their authority, that’s a clear violation of the law.
The president needs to answer for this. Now.
Do you think this is an impeachable offense? Was Barack Obama right to circumvent Congress’ authority? Comment below.
— The Horn editorial team