Over the weekend, top Democrats went berserk over Senator Tom Cotton’s (R-AR) open letter to the Iranian regime warning them that President Obama’s executive agreement with them was not the final legal word. Obama said at the Gridiron Dinner, “You don’t diminish your office by taking a selfie. You do it by sending a poorly written letter to Iran. Really. That wasn’t a joke.”
Secretary of State John Kerry said that Cotton’s letter was “unconstitutional” and that “they cannot change an executive agreement.” He continued by saying that the letter was “unprecedented, unprecedented. …It’s false information and directly calculated to interfere, and basically say, ‘Don’t negotiate with them, you’ve got to negotiate with 535 members of Congress.’”
Of course, it is not unprecedented for Congress to involve itself in foreign policy in precisely the way that Cotton and 46 other Republican senators did. And Barack Obama reportedly contacted Iran through back channels before his election to encourage them not to cut a deal with President George W. Bush; he’d be much more helpful to the mullahs after his inevitable election.
But never mind facts. Republicans are “TRAITORS” for having the temerity to teach the Iranian government about the Constitution–because, as Professor John Yoo points out, Cotton and company were exactly right about the fact that executive agreements are not the final word on foreign policy:
The Cotton letter is right, because if President Obama strikes a nuclear deal with Iran using only instrument (c), he is only committing to refrain from exercising his executive power– i.e., by not attacking Iran or by lifting sanctions under power delegated by Congress. Not only could the next president terminate the agreement; Obama himself could terminate the deal. … Under the Constitution’s Foreign Commerce Clause, only Congress has the authority to impose international economic sanctions. Obama’s executive agreement cannot prevent Congress from imposing mandatory, severe sanctions on Iran without the possibility of presidential waiver (my preferred solution for handling the Iranian nuclear crisis right now).
This, apparently, should be prosecuted as “criminal mutiny,” according to legal mind Sean Penn. But Barack Obama’s plan to completely overthrow the constitutional order by going to the United Nations is apparently hunky-dory.
And that’s precisely what Obama plans to do. According to Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, the agreement will “not be a bilateral agreement between Iran and the U.S., but rather one that will be concluded with the participation of five other countries, including all permanent members of Security Council, and will also be endorsed by a Security Council resolution.”
The goal would seem to be that after Obama signs his executive agreement, which will be endorsed by the so-called P5+1 (the permanent membership of the UN Security Council, plus Germany), Obama will then go to the United Nations to completely dismantle the Iranian sanctions regime–a regime that took years to put together and more years to implement and enforce. By doing so, Obama will effectively destroy the sanctions regime, preventing congressional sanctions from having any impact. As Andy McCarthy writes at National Review:
It is otherworldly to find an American administration conspiring against the Constitution and the Congress in cahoots with a terror-sponsoring enemy regime, with which we do not even have formal diplomatic relations, in order to pave the enemy’s way to nuclear weapons, of all things.
Yet that is what is happening. Today, the Times of Israel reported that Obama’s National Intelligence Director delivered a report to the U.S. Senate removing Iran and Hezbollah from its list of terrorism threats, presumably as an olive branch to the regime.
Obama is hell-bent on kowtowing to Iran. And he’ll subvert the Constitution to do it.
Ben Shapiro is Senior Editor-At-Large of Breitbart News and author of the new book, The People vs. Barack Obama: The Criminal Case Against The Obama Administration (Threshold Editions, June 10, 2014). He is also Editor-in-Chief of TruthRevolt.org. Follow Ben Shapiro on Twitter @benshapiro.