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tv   U.S. Senate U.S. Senate  CSPAN  June 6, 2018 5:59pm-6:31pm EDT

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i don't even understand the logic let alone the sensibleness of it. and now today we've learned that mick mulvaney is continuing his systematic dismantling of thecoy dismantling -- by disbanding the consumer advisory board. it is a board of 25 advocates for american consumers and industry experts. it's required by law to meet ain, required by law to meet twice a year. but mulvaney now says they won't hold any meetings -- not today, not tomorrow, not nex week, not next month, period. when they were supposed to meet with mulvaney to advocate for american consumers, done with that, i guess. not ever until mulvaney replaces all the members with his handpicked cronies. so he is saying -- even though federal law says you've got to meet with them, required by law to meet twice a year, mulvaney says i'm not meeting with t
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unti alluit and i get my handpicked friends of payday lenders, friends of wa street, friesf banks,riends of financial svis that think about politics and government and regulation the way mulvaney thinks. what's right about that, mr. president? apparently director be mulvaney who h two j head of office and budget and budget and management and head of the consumer business, puttingt mildly, two absolutely full-time jobs, he has time with payday lenders at gulf resorts but can't make the time to meet with consumer experts haoepb though it's the -- even though it's the law to make it twice a year so he says he's not going to do it. the board is supposed to advise the directors of the consumer bureau on friends they're seeing so the bureau can stay ahead of scams and frauds. it's one more tool, or should be one more t to try to prevent
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corporations from scamming consumers before it happens. let's for a change stop the corruption and stop the back scratching and stop the favors for wall street before they ratr baitaxpayers bailing o the ty scamhe public, and the public who is left penniless in far too many cases. it's also an opportunity for the director to hear what kinds of consroblems americans here's fundamentally, mr. president, w pope francis, soon after he assumed the papacy aon prits toe flock, sroles them, try to experience their lives as much as a well-paid public servant can, including a senator, including a congressman or woman, including a city council person, whatever. go out and smell like the flock. instead of mulvaney hanging
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around payday lenders in the bahamas, maybe he ought to smell like flock a little, follow the words of pe francis and listen to the problems people have. one of the ways is doing is listening to the advocates for american consumer advocates. he's required to meet twice a year. he clearly isn't listening to people that can share some of these. lincoln similarly, when lincoln wassident, his staff wanted heupld to stay in the -- him t stay in the white house, win the war, free the slaves and preserve the union. lincoln said i've got to go out and get my public opinion baths. mulvaney could use this. maybe then he would understand consumers' problems. but heoe't see do that. over aed his position at the consumer protection bureau to do favors for corporate special interests rather than look out for the people he's supposed to serve. he canceled an investigation into the payday lending industry
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to preys on consumers. we know how that hns aar breaks down and they can't get to wor and they can't payeie $400 because they don't have the money in their pockets because a quarter of americans don't have $400 discretionary to pay forn emergency. they go to a payday lender, they get another loan,'t pay that back, by the end they're pay 200% o thatn. they never gut of that downrd spiral. does director mulvaney care? apparently not. he's it too busy hanging out with payday lenders himself. if that weren't bad himself, he joined a lout to delay a -- a lawsuit to pteonmers from triple digit interest rates. almost nobody gets one payday loan because they simply can't pay it back quick enough.
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so they get a second and a third and you don't have to be really good in math, mr. president, even senators can understand this. if you're getting three, four, five or six payday loans, ping tple interest rates. borrow300. you end up paying back $500, $600, $700. he gutted the office at the consumer bureau. he disbanded the team that protected student loan ow mr. president, nobody, even as conservative as this body might be is in the tank with wall street as anybody in this body might be, nobody believes we created the consumer bureau to tphraous -- to fleece consumers. but thas what he wts. when he testified to the banking committee, sitting behind him were very well dressed political cronies pulling down very big salaries comparable to his
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salary. in some cases higher than senators' salaries. i' not complaining about that. i'm just saying these are t simyaid people who are ar'too out for consumers. it never ends. that's just the consumer protection bureau. step back and look what's happeningn washington.favors fos for speal intts what it costs american wkers, no matter what it costs american falies. the white house looks like an executive retreat. it looks like a retreat for wall street executives except when it looks like a retreat for drug company executives except pwhe pwhe -- when it looks like a retreat for big bank lobbyists or a retreat for pharma lobbyists. that's the white house. this place looks the same. this place the doors open wide around here form l e big drug companies, lobbyists from wall street, lobbyists from the biggest insurance companies in the country. not so much the public interest, and you can see that in this
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body. mi mulvaney admitted tooom full ofanke -- get this. this is illuminating. it's illustrative. it doesn't shock me because i watched him and i've watched many people that are just like him here. mick mulvaney admitted to a room full of bankers that he decided whom he would meet with based on campaign contributions. i'm not making this up. these are his words. we had a hiehy in inones if you're aobbyist who never m i didn't tk you. if you're a lobbyist who gave us money, i might talk to you. hear that again. we had a hierarchy -- this is mick mulvaney, now in charge of the consumer bureau and consumers aren't writing big chks tmembersf the ina hierarchy in my office in congress e aobis never us money, i didn't talk to you. if you're a lobbyist who gave us money, i might talk to you. those w his words. what was particularly troubling about that is he was telling a room full of bankers that story,
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and he was saying come to me, come to me. giveoney him per se becau he's t running for office now. but give members of congress money. get involved. make contributions. come into their -fs 0s. don't give them the money in the office. that would be perhaps vulgar and illegal. but give these politicians money, and then they may do things for you. he was basically, as head of the consumer bureau, inviting bankers give more money. give more money. imagine that. agine that. talk about the white house looks like a retreat for payday nd exetives etre executives, now we're seeing how devastating those priorities are for american consumers. think about the 3.5 million victims of wells fargo fake account scandal. think about the service members who had their cars repossessed while svingheir country overseas. they come back from combat, they come back from service oversandn
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repossessed. y? because the consumer bureau is not on the beat now anymore to protect those service members from these kinds ofals. think therho ended up paying 300% on a $300 loan. mick mulvaney is looking out for wall street. who's looking out for the service member? who's looking out for the grandmother? who's looking out for the wells fargo fake account scandal victims? i note thebs q the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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the presiding officer: the senator from ohio. mr. portman: i asunanimous consent that the quorum call be the esiding offwith: t objection. mr. portman: presint, today i want to talk about new information regarding the iran nuclear deal negotiated by the obam administration. thisment i
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sometimes as the jcpoa or joint comprehensive plan of action. this is an agreement that was reache by the obama administration. it was voted on after the fact by andctlly a majority of members of the house and senate chose to the agreement, but not enough to be able to stop it. so it went into effect and it has gotten some plays a the president has pulled out the united s involvement in that agreement. what i'm going to talk about this ening is new information that has come from the permanent subcommittee on investigations, which i chair. we began an investigation into one aspect of this agreement nearly two years ago, and it was based on information we received that despite the obama administration's claims to the contrary, there may have been some undisclosed arrangement with iran to grant them access
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to the u.s. financial system. the deal went like this, in exchange toran ain to certain limitatio regarding its nuclear arsenal,ncding enrisching uranium, the united nations security counsel would -- council lift some sanctionon iran. as part of that agreement, which included ongoing deadlines that need it had to be met over a period of years, the united states lifted secondary sanction the a not direct sanctions, but these were foreign countries an entities that do business with those under u.s.anction,in. so ira deal other countries were now allowed, for the first time, to freely do business with iran without the u.s. putting -- imposing sanctions on them. that was important to iran.
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iran was also allowed to access money that had been frozen abroad in other countries e t threat of u.s. sanctions ainst cooperating foreign partners no longer existed. at the same time, because of the nonnuclear concerns withran, including ballistic missle development and destabilization of the region, u.s. sanctions against iran remained in pce. so our primary sanctions stayed in place. this means iran was banned from directly accessing the u.s. financial system and banks and other private institutions will still banned from accessing u.s. financial systems on behalf of iran. this is a big deal. that's sort of the one thing that any country that reallyants is accs t our financial system because it is so intertwined with the rest of the world. they were still banned from
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accessing our u.s. financial system. this, by the way, was a key point that the obama administration made clear throughout the negotiations with iran. they repeatedly provided assurances to the american people that iran would not be granted access to the u.s. financial system. they made the same statements before cesomttees and in testimony up here. on july 23, 2015, a senior treasury official said, quote, irannanks will not be able to hold correspondance with u.s. financial institutions or enter any arrangements with u.s. banks. this statement further associated, iran will continue to be denied accs to the world's largest financial and commercial market. that's us. that's what they said. on august 5, 201 the then acting under secretary o treasury for terrorism and
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financial intelligence testified before the u.s. senate committee on banking t quote, iran will be denied access to the world's most important mket, unable to deal with the world's most important currency, that being the dollar. he also stated, quote, iranian banks will not be able to clear u.s. dollars through new york, hold correspondent relationship with the financial institutions or enter into arrangements with u.s. banks. thesims weryere clear. the u.s. financial system was not to be used. despite these claims, the very next year, just after implementation of the deal had begun, we started hearing reports that the obama administration was considering changing course on this obviously raised a lot of concerns for member of congress on the other side of the aisle because the iranian regime was the number one state sponsor of terror, continued to commit
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agreenlus violations of human rights, as it still does today. in fact, in july of 2016, a bipartisan group of 35 senators sent a letter to president o expressing deep concern over these rumors that iran might be granted being access to the u.s. dollar and u.s. financial system. it was about that time that we stated our investigation in the permanent subcommittee on investigations. and, again, we did so because we were hearing these rumors this mht be happening. today, after a nearly two-year investigation, we unveiled a report which detailed for the first time how despite their claims to thetrar the obama administration secretly granted a specific license authorizing the conversation of anian assets worth billions of dollars using the u.s. financial system. remember that this happened despite repeated assurances to the public and congress that iran would not be granted acces,
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specifically the obama administration asked two banks, u.s. banks, to execute the transactions. fortunately, these two big u.s. multinational banks refused to do so. the report outlines key findings and recommendations designed to prevent this from happening in the future. what funds are we talking about in well, before the iran deal was implemented, iran transferred approximately $13 billion in oil revenue assets to bank accounts overseas. they deposited8 in one bank account in muscot. three days after implementation the agreement, bank muscot contacted the office of forei asset control, which is within the treasury department responsible for enforcing u.s. sanctions. they did this on behalf of the central bank of iran. this is the ohman bank
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contacting the u.s. treasury department saying we need your help. they were going to convert $ 5.7 billion into euros on behalf of iran because the real was paid to the u.s. dollar, the most efficient conversation was through ale u.s. bank -- through a u.s. bank using u.s. dollars. iran was adamant getting this done quickly. despite his public stance that it would not provide iran to u.s. financial systems and u.s. banks on february 24, 2016, ofac, this didn't ofasury agency, issued a specific license to bank moscat authorizing iranian assets worth approximately $5.7 to flow through the u.s. financial system. today i heard some say this
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specific license was just a narrow exemption, or just a minor fix. to that i directly -- direct you to an e-mail from a bank moscato official who said that the license was a gigantic breakthrough which has assured iran of almost fl global financial inclusion. end quote. doesn't sound like a eurofix to me. anyone who said that it didn't grant access to the u.s. financial system has not read the report from the bureau on investigations. they haven't read the obama administration's e-mails that we cite in this report. don't take my word for i as one state department official wrote to his iraannterpa said that they said they have a license to -- through the u.s. financial system. thro the state department at the time. straon clearly
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understood that something was wrong here. of this was not part of the iran deal. a senior state department official wrote at the time in 2016 that t transaction was, quote, prohibited from u.s. sanctions still in place which we were clear we would not be removing as part of the jcpoa. end quote. that same official wrote that cr a transaction, quote, exceeded the jcpoa commitment because it authorized the use of the u.s. financial system. let me repeat this. the obama administration state department completely understood this concession that giving iran access to the u.s. financial system was prohibited by u.s. sanctions. that, i quote again, we were clear we would not be removing. those aren't my word. they aren't the words of the sub xoit. those are the -- committee. those are the words of a senior ste partment official at the time. there is no confusion about this as far as we can tell.
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shortly after issuing an official license to convert the money, an official wrote in an e-mail, quote, i think we earned the right to never discuss this matterr again. i disagree. i think we have to talk about this, and to talk about how before, during, and after thetre state department officials testified in front of congress that iran would not have access to this financial system, they worked behind the scenes to allow exactly that. we have to talk about this to be sure it doesn't happen again. following the issuance of the specific license, ofac contacted the two u.s. banks reqsting them to -- asking to convert the money to dollars. iran was making both public and elaims. they were not getting the net of the deal they expected and asserting the deal could fall apart you all may remember that time
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period when there were threats by iran to pull out of the deal. we discovered an e-mail where a state department official even suggested that the secretary of state or the secretary of treasury should contact these a enurage them to facilitate this conversion. by the way, we have no evidence that those calls were made. i'm not suggesting that. both u.s. banks declined to complete the transaction. according to the banks, red to do so compliance, reputational, and legal risks associated with doing business with iran. they did the right thing. because u.s. banks were unwilling to convert the funds, despite requests from the obama administration, ultimately the bank of moscot was unable to affect wait the conversation using the u.s. dollar. the u.s. state department said that they converted it into euros using european banks.
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the only reason the transaction wasn't executed is because the two u.s. banks refused dpite pressure even though the dmims asked them to help -- administration asked them to convert the money. after the treasury department issued the license, the obama administration maintained the false notion that it had not provided iran access to the u.s. financial system. on april 5, 2016, ambassador thomas shoon said, there is no exchange of dollarse the u.s. financial system. we have not allowed an access to our larger financial system. end quote. on may 25, 2016, the acting under secretary of treasury for terrorism and financial intelligence said, quote, buty y what i said here today and i know he was looking forward to me being here to relay his views on this, iran will notave access to our financial system. on june 7, 2016, treasury wrote
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a letter to senators kirk and rubio, said that the surmt is -- u.s. is not planning to grant iran access to the u.s. financial system. period. time after time the obama administration misled the american people and misled congress r coness on -- congress on this and point. i believe it was because the administration was eager to make this deal work they want to keep iran and the deal. our report shows that the state department and treasury department held 200 meetings or road shows around the world to encourage other countries to do business with iran. in the road shows, treasury department officials also downplayed any potential future penalties or fines that might result from sanctions. during one road show the head of ofac robtdly told -- reportedly told the office that 95% of the time ofac sees a violation, it
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results in a warning letter. this is the head of the agency saying 95% of the time it results in a simple warning letter or no enforcement action. we shouldn't be telling anyone that we only enforce sanctions just 5% of the time. one european regulator who attended a road show said that foreign institutions felt, in his words, political pressure to conduct business with iran and iranian companies. sanctions are a vital foreign policy tool,et in this case the obama administration seemed to send the wrong message about their enforcement and effectiveness. the p.s.i. report outlines key transparency regulations to ensure that undisclosed side deals like this never happens again, including requiring the current admisn keep
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congressional committees up-to-date with iran. disclosing to congress any specific licenses proposed and puttingla stronger enforcement of the u.s. sanctions. going forward this report underscores how important the u.s. financial system is to global finance markets and gives us a substantial amount of leverage in negotiations. we should choose to use it. we now have an opportunity to fix the fundamental flaws in the iran deal and put in place a stronggreeme ttly protects america's national security interests and the interest of our allies in the region. recall that the iran deal was opposed by a bipartisan majority of this body. i support our efforts to work with our european allies to put in place a better deal that truly represents our own national security interests and those of our allies in the region. i hope this report helps us to avoid the kinds of problems that occurred last time the next time
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around. thank you, mr. president. i yield back my time. i note the absenceuom. quorum call: the presiding officer: the senator from ohio. mr. portman: i ask unanimous consent that with respect to amendment h.r. 888 was an amendment to the committee-reported amendment and the tkph-t substitute as amended be agreed toened a t bill as amended passed. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. portman: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent the senate ocd to consideration of s. res. 536 submitted earlier today. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: senate resolution 536, to authori dument production by the select committee on intelligence. the presiding officer: without objection, the senate will proceed to the measure.
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mr. portman: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that t resolution be ag the preamble be agreed to, and that the motion to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table with no intervening action or debate. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. portman: mr. president, with that, i yield. the presiding officer: r the prev the sate is adjourned until 10:00 a.m. tomorrow.inhofe: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from oklahoma. mr. inhofe: mr. president, i want to kind of share what just happened here. one of


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