In a move that makes the Gitmo prisoner exchange look like a mere poor decision at 2 a.m on a Friday night, it turns out the Obama administration tried to help Iran do an end-run around U.S. sanctions and get their hands on more cash while blatantly lying to Congress and the public about it.
Because, well, Obama.
After explicitly telling Congress and the public that Iran would not be given access to the U.S. banking system (a stipulation included in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, better known as the Iran Deal), the Obama White House turned around and did that very thing – without telling anybody.
Oh, and then they lied about it.
The Obama administration secretly sought to give Iran access — albeit briefly — 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.
...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.
Here's the gist: Iran had buckets of oil money sitting in frozen accounts at a bank in the Persian Gulf. Under the new deal, which lifted certain sanctions, those accounts were unfrozen, and Iran could finally get to its cash.
The trouble is that rials are really, really hard to convert. So, the Obama administration attempted to help Iran on the down low by allowing them to run the cash through a U.S. bank and convert it into U.S. dollars, then euros - a process that goes against financial sanctions, and something they'd explicitly promised they wouldn't do.
The AP adds that the only reason the transaction didn’t go down is because the two banks the Obama administration approached to actually process the transaction declined out of fear that their reputations would be compromised by doing business with or for Iran.
Apparently, the Obama administration had no such misgivings.
To make matters worse, when lawmakers later questioned the administration over whether financial sanctions against Iran would remain in place under the new Iran Deal, Obama officials maintained that the answer was "yes" – without disclosing that they’d already tried to help Iran circumvent those very sanctions.
Hilariously (not really), this new report comes just two weeks after Obama publicly claimed – yet again – that his entire eight-year presidency was totally scandal-free.
While a couple dozen examples come to mind that debunk that myth, the so-called Iran “Deal” is pretty high on the list of sketchy dealings crafted by the Obama administration and covertly slid past the public. As was the hallmark of his presidency, the end goal was never to reach a deal between Iran and the American people -- it was to execute Obama’s unilateral agenda, Congress and the American people be damned.
And if it took issuing secret backdoor licenses for Iran to get their hands on more cash via U.S. banks while lying to the entire nation about it, so be it.
And if this surprises you, just imagine what else we don’t know.