Boehner Calls Bergdahl Swap 'Potentially Serious Lapse in Judgment' (Updated)

Boehner says GAO ruling confirms Obama overstepped his authority in  approving Bergdahl prisoner swap. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 3:15 p.m. | Speaker John A. Boehner said Friday that the news the Obama administration ignored the power of the purse in a national security matter should be no surprise.  

The Ohio Republican was responding to a Government Accountability Office finding, issued a day earlier, that the Obama administration acted outside federal law in the swap of five Taliban members for the release of Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl.  

"Yesterday, the nonpartisan, independent Government Accountability Office confirmed what everyone capable of reading the English language already knew: the White House ignored the law when it released five dangerous Taliban prisoners without proper Congressional notification," said Boehner in a statement. "At a time when we are grappling with the evil terror of the self-proclaimed 'Islamic State' in Syrian and Iraq — a group whose leader was once an American detainee, before being released — it is difficult to imagine a more potentially serious lapse in judgment by the Obama administration."  

Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., on Thursday backed appointment of a special counsel to investigate the matter, given apparent violations of both notification requirements for transfers from Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, as well as a violation of the law blocking spending in the absence of appropriations.  

"Every time the president unilaterally re-writes the law and ignores the Constitution, he does damage to the institutions of our democratic government, and undermines further the bonds of trust between that government and the American people," Boehner said.  

Obama spokesman Eric Schultz, speaking at a news briefing later, defended the prisoner swap, telling reporters the president's responsibility to act to save American lives trumps concerns about funding mechanisms.