Rep. Jason Chaffetz has invited White House national security adviser Ben Rhodes to a May 17 hearing on the Iran deal. Chaffetz’s invitation follows the New York Times Magazine profile of Rhodes in which Rhodes brags about the success of the lies he disseminated on behalf of the Iran deal. The Hill reports that Rhodes has not yet responded to the invitation and that he may be subpoenaed to testify.
White House spokesman Josh Earnest was asked about the matter at the press briefing yesterday (video above, about five minutes). Earnest indignantly responds with a list of Republican congressmen who protested the financial windfall of $100-150 billion that Iran was to reap as a result of the deal. Earnest leads off with this, for example: “Congressman Ken Buck of Colorado promised in August 2015 that Iran would get $100 billion to $200 billion in sanctions relief. Congressman Buck is either wrong or lying and he can discuss that with the committee.”
This seems to be Earnest’s leading point. Naming other congressmen, he repeats it. They had it wrong and they should be the ones to testify, according to Earnest. “I don’t know whether our critics were just willfully misinformed, mistaken or lying,” Earnest said. “But if Republicans were interested in getting to the bottom of this, then they just swear in members of their own conference.”
Earnest’s response is sarcastic and juvenile. The Republicans — why, they’re worse than Rhodes! Earnest speaks on behalf of the boy with his hand caught in the cookie jar, or of the boy’s boss.
But that’s not all. We also have today’s headline in Earnest’s local newspaper: “Iran claims $100 billion now freed in major step as sanctions roll back.” In the text of the story Brian Murphy reports: “Iran’s government spokesman, Mohammad Bagher Nobakht, said more than $100 billion has been ‘fully released’ and available for Iranian use, according to comments on the website of state-run Press TV.”
Was Earnest joshing? Is this some kind of a joke? Perhaps Rep. Chaffetz should add Earnest to the witness list for his May 17 hearing.
As I have repeatedly pointed out, Iranian spokesmen have provided more reliable news on the Iran deal than has the Obama administration. David Samuels’s profile of Rhodes now goes part of the way toward explaining how this came to be. It is indeed an issue worth exploring.