The chairman of the House Intelligence Committee on Monday accused the Obama administration of completely shutting Congress out of major foreign policy decisions, including how to deal with Russia’s aggression on the Ukraine border, and the delayed Iran nuclear talks.
Chairman Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) said the White House has not reached out to Congress in any meaningful way on Russia, and totally ignored Congress’s advice not to extend the Iran nuclear talks.
“There’s not a robust engagement the way that we were used to on really sensitive national security issues,” Rogers said on Fox and Friends Monday morning.
Rogers said that last week, White House officials brief members on the Iran nuclear talks, and were told by most that the talks should not be extended.
“[E]verybody there said, why are you giving them more money, you shouldn’t do it,” he said. “The next day they announced they’re giving more money.”
The four-month extension of the nuclear talks will give Russia access to another $2.8 billion in assets that were frozen by the United States. Secretary of State John Kerry defended the move by saying sanctions will remain in place against Iranian oil sales while talks continue on the fate of Iran’s nuclear program.
Still, Rogers said most in Congress were clearly opposed to the extension, and said the White House has no interest in taking advice from members.
“There has been a bipartisan push that I’ve really not seen in Congress in a long time, pushing back on the president’s foreign policy,” he said. “And they have an absolute tin ear.”
On the situation in Ukraine, Rogers blamed Russian President Vladimir Putin for contributing to violence along the border that led to the downing of a Malaysian passenger jet.
“This is an unmitigated tragedy where he’s really massacred 295 people by playing fast and loose with these weapons systems,” Rogers said. Many, including officials within the Obama administration, are blaming Russia for making available the high-end missile system needed to shoot down the plane from 33,000 feet.
Rogers called on the administration to start building up a missile defense system in the Czech Republican and in Poland, and to perform military training in Poland to show Russia the U.S. is serious. He said that could rally the Europeans around tighter sanctions against Russia.
“He will understand certainty and strength,” Rogers said. “Right now, we don’t either of those.”