Wednesday, September 14, 2005

John Roberts’ Iran-Contra Connection.

US Supreme Court nominee John Roberts may have known about dealings in the Reagan White House to exchange arms for hostages and to illegally aid the Contras while he worked in the White House’s counsel office in 1985 through 1986.

In January of 1985 Roberts was asked to give a legal opinion on the White House’s involvement in the private fundraising to aid the contras who were fighting Nicaragua’s Sandinista government. Additionally, Roberts wrote several memos in early 1986 concerning the private fundraising of activities of individuals who later were prosecuted in the Iran-Contra Affair.

In one instance, Reagan proposed remarks that said, “I ask you - and I ask private citizens throughout the country - to give private donations to the freedom fighter cause. Help them survive this Soviet-Cuban-supplied onslaught. Help these brave freedom fighters last out until American aid can reach them.” When Roberts reviewed the draft on March 20, 1986, he wrote in a memo that Reagan’s remarks “raises serious concerns under the Neutrality Act.” Roberts continued, writing, “Private citizens who contribute money to buy arms for use against a country with which the US is not at war would be violating federal law and be subject to a fine and prison term.” The Supreme Court nominee concluded by saying, “The president cannot encourage private citizens to engage in such activity. The reference to private donations must either be deleted or revised to make clear that only donations for humanitarian aid (not covered by the Neutrality Act) are encouraged.”

Roberts left the Reagan White House in May of 1986, just six months before the Iran-Contra scandal became known to the public, which nearly resulted in impeachment hearings against the President Ronald Reagan. Although it isn’t unusual for lawyers to circulate in and out of government service, what is unusual is that between January and June of 1986 the entire White House counsel office, where Roberts worked, all left, including Reagan’s personal presidential counsel Fred Fielding.


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