President Trump Invokes Emergency Powers Act In New EO
On December 21, just before leaving for Christmas break, President Trump signed an executive order that will probably have liberals up in arms. More importantly, it marks a move to freezing assets and naming international persons who are considered a high risk threat. It may even present a means to an end on a different level to some known “security risks” within our borders as well.
To be clear this is neither a new move by a sitting president nor one taken lightly. The 50 U.S.C. 1701 National Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA) has been around since the Sept. 14, 1976 and codified in 50 U.S.C. Chap. 35 § 1701 in particular. Before that a similar act was used from 1933 forward. However, the first was considered by the Supreme Court in one of its rulings to be too wide open and actually unlimited in power so congress ended the 1933 act and enacted the IEEPA limiting scope but not certain executive authorities.
The Patriot Act enhanced the IEEPA asset blocking provisions to permit the blocking of assets during the “pendency of an investigation.” This statutory change gave the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control the power to block assets without the need to provide evidence of the blocking subject’s wrongdoing nor to permit the blocking subject a chance to effectively respond to the allegations in court. There were legal problems which came with the use of this act at that time including challenging federal authority to indefinitely prevent charitable organizations from accessing their assets held in the United States. An additional modification was done increasing penalties on Oct. 16, 2007 with an Enhancement Act PL 110–96, authored by Senator Chris Dodd (D-CT).
A few IEEPA violations incidents:
- 1983, financier Marc Rich was accused of violating the act by trading in Iranian oil during the Iran hostage crisis. He was one of many people pardoned by President Bill Clinton in his last days in office.
- Feb. 24, 1996, Bill Clinton issued a proclamation concerning IEEPA concerning Cuba to regulate the anchorage and movement of vessels
- October 2001, George W. Bush used this act to block the assets of terrorist organizations. The Patriot Act enhanced the IEEPA asset blocking provisions to permit the blocking of assets during the “pendency of an investigation.”
- 2003, IEEPA charges were brought against Americans who travelled to Iraq in advance of the 2003 invasion to act as human shields, on the basis that they spent money while in Iraq.
- Feb. 26, 2004, George W. Bush expanded the Cuba proclamation for terrorism reasons.
- Aug. 23, 2006, Javed Iqbal was arrested through the U.S. Department of the Treasury with a charge of conspiracy to violate the IEEPA for airing material produced by al-Manar (The Beacon) in New York City during the 2006 Israel-Lebanon conflict.
- Dec. 16, 2009, it was announced that the U.S. Dept. of Justice reached a settlement with Credit Suisse over accusations that the bank assisted residents of IEEPA sanctioned countries to wire money in violation of the Act from 1995 to 2006. The settlement resulted in Credit Suisse forfeiting $536 million.
- May 13, 2010,Obama continued the IEEPA in respect to Burma until 2016 when he removed Burma from the list.
- Apr. 1, 2015, a IEEPA EO concerning cybersecurity was issued.
- Feb. 25, 2016, Obama modified the IEEPA on Cuba.
There have been others as well but in general it appears most proclamations that were issued were against countries. The current executive order departs from that by naming target individuals.
“Executive Order Blocking the Property of Persons Involved in
Serious Human Rights Abuse or Corruption”
I therefore determine that serious human rights abuse and corruption around the world constitute an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States, and I hereby declare a national emergency to deal with that threat.
Section 1. (a) All property and interests in property that are in the United States, that hereafter come within the United States, or that are or hereafter come within the possession or control of any United States person of the following persons are blocked and may not be transferred, paid, exported, withdrawn, or otherwise dealt in…
Sec. 1702 gives authority but interestingly Trump named broad categories and similar to the Patriot Act is being open-ended worldwide rather than particular sanction against a particular nation. It appears to have considered and invoked the” individual” designation rather than the country.
(A) investigate, regulate, or prohibit–
(i) any transactions in foreign exchange,
(ii) transfers of credit or payments between, by, through, or to any
banking institution, to the extent that such transfers or payments
involve any interest of any foreign country or a national thereof,
(iii) the importing or exporting of currency or securities,
by any person, or with respect to any property, subject to the
jurisdiction of the United States;
(B) investigate, block during the pendency of an investigation…
(C) engaged in armed hostilities or has been attacked by a foreign country
or foreign nationals, confiscate any property, subject to the jurisdiction
of the United States, of any foreign person, foreign organization,
or foreign country that he determines has planned, authorized, aided,
or engaged in such hostilities or attacks against the United States
The Department of Treasury does go before Congress and provide semi-annual updates on any activities under the IEEPA. They can be viewed HERE.
This is for international use but I have to wonder if this could be used closer to home. For instance for “foreign nationals” that have entered the US on illegal visas, broken the law seeking refuge, or received national immigration status either as a permanent status or as a naturalized citizen. Could it be invoked on George Soros?
While admittedly I feel a bit uneasy on its scope, I do see where revoking citizenship status on individuals with international homes or connections to other countries could be used to remove serious national security threats to our country especially if they are already being investigated by foreign enforcement entities.
How about Obama who might have a residence in the Middle East or at least an interest in some organization, international business dealings, or an international base located outside the US? Obama did in a video allegedly state in 1995 in his own words in front of a small audience that he was from Kenya rather than the US. (I use allegedly on this video because I have no way of authenticating it, one has to be very cautious about accusations if trying to report truth not fiction.)
So could Trump be challenged on this EO? Doubtful but then liberals have forcechallenged his right as president in many ways and in particular to issue immigration bans…anything goes I guess. The biggest stumbling block I have is that the threat is so broad and not encompassing one specific country–but then, so are international sex/slave trade, black market arms sales, drug racketeering, and corruption issues like money laundering.