Making Foreign Policy

June 26, 1987

Report Outline
Special Focus


President Reagan's press spokesman, Marlin Fitzwater, had been assailed by reporters daily with questions about the president's role and culpability in the Iran-contra affair. Repeatedly, he denied any presidential improprieties. Then on May 15, at the White House, Fitzwater took a new tack, asserting for the first time the president's constitutional powers over foreign policy. His target was the series of laws, known as the Boland amendments, aimed at barring U.S. aid to rebel forces in Nicaragua.

None of those laws, declared Fitzwater, “contained any language that limited the constitutional and historical power of the president to set and implement foreign policy.”

Fitzwater's assertion didnt go unchallenged. “The president is the president, and the United States is a democracy,” declared Sen. George J. Mitchell (D-Maine), a member of the Senate select committee on the Iran-contra affair. “He's not the king, and this is not a monarchy.”

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