President Obama didn’t keep Congress entirely in the dark in the lead-up to exchanging five Taliban leaders for captive U.S. Army sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, he just didn’t tell Republican leadership.
Obama did inform Senate majority leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.) that the exchange was imminent. “It must have been either the day before or the day of. I don’t remember for sure,” Reid told Politico.
House speaker John Boehner (R., Ohio) received no such notification. “More than two years ago, Members of Congress were briefed on the possibility of such an exchange, and the chairmen at the time and I raised serious questions to the administration,” Boehner said. ”There was every expectation that the administration would re-engage with Congress, as it did before, and the only reason it did not is because the administration knew it faced serious and sober bipartisan concern and opposition.” Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) was similarly left in the dark until after the exchange.
The Defense Department told Boehner of the exchange after it took place. “In that call, according to a GOP aide, the DoD official proactively acknowledged that the exchange was ‘inconsistent’ with the law,” ABC reports. The president is legally required to notify Congress 30 days before releasing a prisoner from Guantanamo Bay.
A White House official apologized to Senate Intelligence Committee chairwoman Dianne Feinstein (D., Calif.) for failing to tell her of the deal.