Citing a POLITICO investigation, Republican leaders of the House oversight committee said Friday they have launched a sweeping investigation into whether the Obama administration, in trying to win support for a nuclear deal and prisoner swap with Tehran last year, undermined an ambitious U.S. counterproliferation effort to thwart Iranian weapons trafficking networks.
Also in response to the POLITICO investigation, 13 Republican senator have demanded answers about whether the Obama administration jeopardized U.S. national security as a result of its protracted top-secret negotiations with Tehran, and then misled the American public when disclosing the terms of the two deals in January 2016.
The House and Senate lawmakers cited various portions of an April 24 report by POLITICO that found that the Obama administration, through actions in some cases and inaction in others, significantly hampered a much-touted federal law enforcement effort known as the National Counterproliferation Initiative at a time when it was making unprecedented headway in thwarting Iran's illicit weapons proliferation activities.
The POLITICO investigation also reported that during their public rollout of the two deals, Obama and other key administration officials downplayed the threat posed by the Iranian traffickers they were freeing as part of the swap that also freed five Americans held by Iran. The Obama administration officials focused their public comments only on seven Iranian-born men in the U.S. whose convictions or prosecutions were being dropped as part of the swap, and described them as civilians involved in mere sanctions-related offenses but not charged with terrorism or any violent offenses.
In reality, many of the men -- and 14 other Iranian fugitives not named publicly by the top Obama officials -- had been accused or convicted of charges stemming from their alleged involvement in clandestine networks supplying Iran with parts and technology for its weapons, ballistic missiles and nuclear programs, POLITICO reported. The Justice Department itself had characterized many of them as threats to national security, the investigation found.