News & Politics

Sen. Tom Cotton: Iran Deception Is What You Get With 'Van Drivers, Campaign Flaks, and Failed Novelists in Charge of Foreign Policy'

Sen. Tom Cotton: Iran Deception Is What You Get With 'Van Drivers, Campaign Flaks, and Failed Novelists in Charge of Foreign Policy'
Senator Tom Cotton Senate Armed Services hearing on Counter ISIL Operations, Washington DC, America - 28 Apr 2016 (Rex Features via AP Images)

Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR) said Tuesday that the Iran deception scandal is what you get when van drivers, campaign flaks, and failed novelists are put in charge of foreign policy and national security. Cotton has become the Obama White House’s “public enemy number one” in recent months because of his strong, vocal opposition to the Iran nuclear deal.


The freshman senator blasted the Obama White House during an appearance on the Hugh Hewitt Show Tuesday morning after Hewitt played a clip of White House Press Sec. Josh Earnest calling him a liar. Cotton hit back hard, calling Earnest a “chump” who has nothing to laugh about.

“I guess I became public enemy number one at the White House, Hugh, because I’m telling the truth about the Iran deal,” Cotton said.  “Some of the coverage of Ben Rhodes is what happens when you put van drivers and campaign flaks and failed novelists in charge of foreign policy and national security.”

Referring to Josh Earnest, he added, “and that chump may think that subsidizing Iran’s nuclear program with millions of dollars is a laughing matter. I don’t think it’s that funny. And if he or anyone else over there had ever been man enough to put on the uniform and pick up the rifle, and have to lead men in dodging Iranian-made bombs, they might not be laughing, either.”

Cotton pointed out that the administration has a pattern of telling Congress in classified settings very different sanctions-relief estimates from what the White House publicly says.

Now President Obama has put the estimate at times well north of $100 billion dollars. But Hugh, now you’ve got flaks in the White House and John Kerry and other senior administration officials running around saying oh, it’s only $3 billion, it’s only $5 billion.

This administration has a pattern of telling the truth in classified settings, and then misleading or misinforming the American people in public settings. I sit on the Intelligence Committee and the Armed Services Committee. I have had repeated briefings about the Iran nuclear deal, some just a few weeks old. They come from non-partisan, professional intelligence analysts. And I can’t tell you the number that they have briefed us recently, but I can tell you it’s a hell of a lot closer to $150 billion dollars than it is to $3 billion dollars.

And sitting in that briefing was a political appointee named Andrew Exum at the Department of Defense, and any reporter who wants to know should go listen to him, because I gave him a piece of my mind, not because it’s his fault, but he is the political appointee who is there as the representative of administration policy. And it’s time that the administration came clean and told the American people exactly what they tell Congress in a classified setting. And the fact of the matter is the amount of sanctions relief is a lot closer to $150 billion dollars than it is to $3 billion dollars.


Hewitt asked Cotton if he thinks Josh Earnest and Ben Rhodes “have a clue about who the Iranians are, about the revolutionary government there, about Khomeini and Khamenei and what is really going on.”

Next Page: Cotton’s response. Do the White House staff know anything about Iranian history and Iran’s current leaders?

“No, I don’t, Hugh,” Cotton replied. “You know, most of who’s left in the administration now are all these yes men and fan boys who were van drivers or press flaks for Barack Obama in Iowa and New Hampshire in 2008. This reminds me of the time back during the big fight over Obamacare and the government spending bill in the fall of 2013.”

Cotton was referring to former NSC spokesman Tommy Vietor, who started out as the driver of the Obama campaign press van, and of course Ben Rhodes, who went from being a speechwriter without any foreign policy educational experience, military experience, or international experience, to being Obama’s deputy national security adviser.

Cotton, an Iraq war veteran, expressed his disgust that this White House cabal of “yes men and fanboys” accused the House Republicans of being suicide bombers “as if any of them had ever seen anything more dangerous than a shoving match when they were playing beer pong in the back of a bar in Georgetown.”


He concluded on a hopeful note.

Unfortunately, the issue is not closed, because Iran is still continuing its reign of terror throughout the Middle East, and continuing its industrial-sized nuclear program. They’re continuing to launch ballistic missiles, and fund terrorist groups, and threaten U.S. interests throughout the region. The American people have decided on this. We saw yet again last week in a vote on my amendment to ban further subsidies to Iran’s nuclear program, we got 57 Senators.

You don’t get to 57 Senators unless there’s a broad, bipartisan agreement around the country among the American people. Now the President may not change course for the next eight months, but I suspect the next president will.

Watch the video on the next page.

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