The Trump administration asked a Chicago federal court Thursday for a two-month deadline extension on its decision assessing whether revealing secret details of a $17 billion commercial aircraft deal between Iran and Boeing would interfere with U.S. foreign policy by obstructing a key component of the Iranian nuclear deal, CNN reports.
Filed just one day before President Donald Trump is expected to announce plans to decertify the Iran nuclear deal, the Department of Justice request aims to push Thursday’s original court-ordered deadline to January.
While court documents cite a need for more time to review the potential national security implications behind Boeing’s request to keep the terms of its deal with Iran confidential, the Justice Department’s request to delay a decision involving the aerospace giant ahead of Friday’s major policy announcement on Iran is raising questions.
The push to reveal secret details behind the controversial commercial aircraft deal is led by the Leibovitch family who, as victims of Iranian state sponsored terrorism, obtained a $67 million award against Iran in U.S. federal court.
Unable to collect that money, the family filed for Boeing to disclose the terms of its aircraft deal with the Islamic Republic to determine whether Iran maintains reachable assets in the U.S. – a sale that was permitted only after Iran and the Obama administration’s 2015 nuclear agreement. Their attorneys believe Boeing is intentionally trying to assist Iran in evading the outstanding judgements.
“The country’s largest defense contractor is conspiring with the largest murderer of Americans to avoid paying [terror victims] the compensation that American courts found that they’re entitled to receive,” said Robert J. Tolchin, an attorney for the Leibovitch family.
Boeing has argued that making the details of the sale available in court and to the public would harm their posture in the marketplace and potentially undermine the international nuclear agreement with Iran.
The court has ordered the U.S. government to state its position on the sale and its relevance – or lack thereof – to national security but Thursday’s request to move the deadline is not consistent with the Trump administration’s broader views regarding Iran and the nuclear deal.
“While we do not believe Boeing, a private non governmental company, had any right to assert a national security privilege in the first place it now seems pretty clear that the Trump Administration’s position is that the Iran Deal is a dangerous threat to the U.S. and should be decertified. As such, we are hopeful that the court will allow the American terror victims in this case to receive the information Boeing has been desperately attempting to conceal – the details of its airplane deal with the terrorist regime in Tehran,” Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, an attorney for the Leibovitch family, told CNN.
Republican lawmakers are also calling on the Trump administration to respond in favor of Boeing disclosing those details to the court.
“We encourage the Justice Department to clarify for the court both the terms of the [nuclear deal] as well as the national security interest we have in Iran compensating the victims in the Leibovitch case and other similar cases,” Illinois congressman Peter Roskam and Arkansas senator Tom Cotton wrote last week in a letter to the Justice Department.
Given the expectations around the Iran nuclear plan, the court ordered deadline “put the Trump administration in a corner,” a former senior Israeli official who dealt with financial warfare against Iran told CNN ahead of the DOJ’s request for an extension.
“The decision is now a political one,” the official said, adding how the administration handled its role in the proceedings would be sign of whether Trump is just talking about going after Iran or if he means business.