OTR Interviews

Sen. Rand Paul on Iran and Obama going it alone: 'If it sounds like a treaty, looks like a treaty, then why isn't it one?'

Rand Paul on whether Obama would go it alone on Iran, through a form of 'international executive action'

 

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," March 6, 2015. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: The nation heard the Israeli prime minister's warning to Congress.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: My friends, for over a year we have been told that no deal is better than a bad deal. Well, this is a bad deal. It's a very bad deal.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAN SUSTEREN: And now lawmakers introducing a bipartisan bill requiring congressional review of any nuclear deal with Iran. But President Obama is threatening to veto that law.

And last night, we spoke about that with Senator Rand Paul.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

VAN SUSTEREN: Good evening, sir.

SEN. RAND PAUL,, R-KY: Glad to be with you.

VAN SUSTEREN: And there's news tonight that Senator McConnell may opt to not put this bill on the floor.

PAUL: Well, I think it's going to come to the floor but I think the argument was should it come to the committee first? I'm on the Foreign Relations Committee. There are still a lot of questions. I've said all along that I think the law requires the undoing of sanctions that were put on by Congress. Obviously, the law would require that Congress would have to undo these, that he can't do it on its own, so there has been a big debate whether the president can undo sanctions on his own. And that is what this bill will be, the discussion about, that Congress really should have to approve the agreement.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, Republicans giving the president a lot of heat over executive orders, going it alone, and not going to Congress and having things revolved. Can you tell me why this agreement with Iran that the president is negotiating is not a treaty, nation to nation, nuclear weapons, as well as monetary, much like the Start Treaty. And if it is a treaty, it should go to the Senate for advice and consent and a super majority, 67 votes. Why isn't it going that way?

PAUL: If it sounds like a treaty, looks like a treaty, why isn't it a treaty? I think it's a valid question. It's the question I'll bring up. I'm on the Foreign Relations Committee. When it comes up, that will be the debate. We'll debate on how we will approve of the agreement.

The interesting thing about it is most of the discussion has been whether the president gets to do it by himself with no approval or not. This is the debate we have been having with the administration. What we have been attempting to do is at least codify in law that we'll have to approve it, one, to give him strength to negotiate from a position of strength knowing that any agreement is not going to pass muster. But I think you make a good point. It's a point we'll bring this up next week is, is this a treaty, what is a treaty, and let's have that debate.

VAN SUSTEREN: And I can't figure out why this would not be a treaty, especially when you look at the very treaty the president proposed, negotiated and had ratified by the Senate, the Start Treaty, during his presidency, obviously. This is like -- in one way I would think the Republicans might say this is sort of an international executive order if the president things he can go alone without the Senate. And the Constitution, Section II, Clause II says that he must go to the Senate as if for a treaty.

PAUL: And that is a good point. We have had a problem over the last 100 years a lot of powers have been given up by Congress and taken over by the presidency. And there is a category of things they call the agreements. The Democrats maintain there should be no vote in Congress on this. The Democrats are mostly opposed to the Corker bill because they don't believe the president should have any vote in Congress. And now the point you bring up is whether or not it should be a simple majority, like an agreement, or whether it should be similar to what a treaty is, which would be a two-third's vote.

VAN SUSTEREN: The whole thing is whether it's a treaty or not.

OK. And your thoughts on Prime Minister Netanyahu. What impact did he have?

PAUL: I think a big impact, because it drew everybody's attention to -- and maybe broadened people's perspective on whether or not it is about nuclear enrichment. He broadened the message, which is an important one, or broadened the question, which is maybe it should be about them renouncing terrorism in the Middle East. Maybe it should be also about conventional weaponry such as intercontinental ballistic missiles. But really it should be about an attitude.

But I did like the fact that he said the choice is not a bad deal or no deal, maybe there could be a better deal and that he was not opposed to negotiation. And that ultimately Israel, from his perspective, wants peace and that we want peace. And I believe that is an important message to continue to send, that we do want to negotiate. It's difficult to trust people who are your adversaries. And I think I acknowledged that as well. But I don't want it to be about ending negotiation and that the only alternative is war. And I think what I heard from Netanyahu is that continuing to negotiate in a better deal is better than a bad deal.

VAN SUSTEREN: Senator, thank you, sir.

(END VIDEOTAPE)