White House won't let Rhodes testify about the selling of Iran deal
Citing "constitutional concerns," the White House says it will not allow senior national security adviser Ben Rhodes to testify about his controversial comments made to the New York Times Magazine about how the White House lied to sell the Iran deal to Congress and the public.
"While the administration will continue to consult closely with Congress on this important matter, testimony by one of the most senior advisers to the president raises significant constitutional concerns rooted in the separation of powers," he wrote.
"Specifically, the appearance of a senior presidential adviser before Congress threatens the independence and autonomy of the president, as well as his ability to receive candid advice and counsel in the discharge of his constitutional duties," he added.
White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters shortly after 1 p.m. Monday that there was no decision yet on whether Rhodes would testify. "I don't have an answer for you. We're going to continue to review the letter," Earnest said.
But according to a House aide, the White House quickly made up its mind. Eggleston's letter was delivered less than two hours after Earnest's briefing was over.
The answer is likely to further anger Republicans, who say Rhodes revealed in a New York Times interview that he created an "echo chamber" among foreign policy experts in order to help sell the deal. Chaffetz said the decision was "disappointing but typical."
Amazing. The irony of this White House worried about the separation of powers is astonishing. Nevertheless, it appears that if the members of Congress wants to hear from Mr. Rhodes, they are going to have to issue a subpoena.
The "echo chamber" that helped sell the Iran deal constantly hit upon the theme that it was either approve the deal or war with Iran – no other option was mentioned by the White House or the numerous reporters, academics, and think-tanks that weighed in on the deal.
That the White House didn't think to go back to the table to renegotiate some of the more egregious sections of this deal shows how eager it was to grovel before the Iranians. Iran needed this deal at least as much as Obama did. The difference was that Obama was building a "legacy" – and to hell with national security interests of the U.S.
Rhodes claims that his words were often taken out of context by the Times. Even if that's so, it doesn't change the notion that the creation of the narrative to sell the deal was done dishonestly and ended up being a process to conceal the worst of it from the American people.