GOP senators: Fire top aide over Iran deal comments

May 19
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Obama's Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes
Obama's Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes

The Hill
Monday, 16 May 2016

Senate Republicans are demanding that President Obama fire a senior White House adviser over controversial comments he made about the Iran nuclear deal. 

Republican Sens. Mark Kirk (Ill.), John Cornyn (Texas) and John Barrasso (Wyo.) are urging the president to "dismiss Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes before he further tarnishes the office of president." 

"We are deeply disturbed to read ... Rhodes’s public admission to The New York Times that he spearheaded the charge to mislead elected lawmakers and the American people about the Iran nuclear deal and the negotiations that led to this agreement," the senators wrote in a letter sent to Obama Monday. 

They add that if Rhodes "conducted himself this way in a typical place of business outside Washington ... he surely would have already been fired or asked to resign." 

Rhodes' comments in the article — in which he appeared scornful of journalists and foreign policy experts — has sparked fierce backlash across Washington. GOP lawmakers argue his remarks underscore that the Obama administration lied to help sell the nuclear agreement, an accusation that White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest has denied. 

The three senators stressed in their letter that they believe Rhodes has hurt the administration's standing with the public, the media and Congress. 

Referring his comments that he built an "echo chamber" to help sell the deal, the three GOP senators want to know how the administration will "restore the trust of the American public and the members of the news media."   

Cornyn, Kirk, and Barrasso also want to know if Obama believes lawmakers couldn't have a "sober, reasoned public debate" on the Iran nuclear deal. 

"What steps will your Administration itself take to engage in rational discourse and repair damaged relations with the Congress?," they ask in the letter.

Monday's letter comes as White House Counsel W. Neil Eggleston said that Rhodes will not appear before the House Oversight Committee, adding that the request “raises significant constitutional concerns rooted in the separation of powers.” 

The letter from Senate Republicans was first reported by The Washington Free Beacon. 

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