Philadelphia – April 27, 2021 – Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, formally objected to the nomination of Samantha Power as director of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). He cited her failure to respond to congressional questions about her efforts to facilitate the delisting of a designated Sudanese terrorist organization linked to Osama Bin Laden, as uncovered by the Middle East Forum.
In December 2020, the U.S. Senate Finance Committee, then under Grassley's chairmanship, published a detailed memorandum citing and corroborating MEF's research that USAID had funded the Islamic Relief Agency (ISRA). The U.S. government designated the Khartoum-based ISRA a terrorist organization in 2004 due to its ties to Maktab al-Khidamat, the precursor of al-Qaeda, and its financial support for Bin Laden and Hamas.
Mr. Grassley's office uncovered that while Ms. Power served as ambassador to the United Nations during the Obama administration, she worked behind the scenes to effect a Treasury Department review of ISRA's sanctioned status with the aim of removing ISRA from the terror designation list.
To "better understand Ms. Power's involvement in what could be an alarming abuse of power," Mr. Grassley's office sent several letters to Ms. Power and USAID requesting additional information and additional documents. Ms. Power refused to respond.
Consequently, Mr. Grassley declared:
[D]ue to Ms. Power's lack of transparency, I must object to any consideration of this nomination. I cannot in good conscience vote for Ms. Power until I have received a full response to the questions posed in my letter, reviewed the un-redacted versions of these emails, and confirmed that she did not attempt to utilize her office to delist ISRA through back channels.
Cliff Smith, director of MEF's Washington Project, notes: " Ms. Power owes the Senate and the American people full transparency, before her nomination moves forward. Senators should support Senator Grassley's objection."
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