President Trump has been forced to personally intervene to “toughen” the language of a State Department memo that recertified the Iran nuclear deal, adding weight to concerns that the federal bureaucracy — or, the “fourth branch” of government — is operating with its own agenda inside the executive branch.
The draft letter from Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to Congress certified Iran’s supposed compliance in the accord, without noting Iran’s role as the world’s foremost state sponsor of terrorism. Bloomberg reports that Trump found the letter far “too soft” on Iran.
A Wall Street Journal report suggests that Chris Backemeyer and Stephen Mull — high-ranking State Department officials who have, in the past, acted as advocates for pro-Tehran policies and the Iran nuclear deal — had an integral role in formulating the State memo.
“The initial State Department letter on Iran, senior U.S. officials said, was drafted by career diplomats who played leading roles during the Obama administration in negotiating and implementing the Iran deal,” the Wall Street Journal story reads.
“Key players on Iran at the State Department, both under former President Barack Obama and Mr. Trump, include Stephen Mull, who serves as lead U.S. coordinator for the deal’s implementation, and Chris Backemeyer, deputy assistant secretary of State for Iranian affairs.”
Alarmingly, both Mull and Backemeyer led the U.S. delegation that was put in charge of investigating whether Iran is living up to its commitments in the nuclear deal. The two met with their Iranian counterparts in Vienna Tuesday to coordinate nuclear deal implementation procedures.
Conservative Review has recently explored the roles of Backemeyer and Mull, Obama loyalists who, for reasons unknown, maintain their prominent positions at the Trump State Department.
When the Obama administration was attempting to sell the merits of the Iran nuclear deal to the American people, Backemeyer was dispatched to convince multinational companies to do business with the terrorist regime. He is currently the highest ranking official at the State Department on Iran policy.
While Iran was sending its terror armies throughout the Middle East in an effort to further destabilize the region, Backemeyer helped the regime secure an estimated $100-plus billion in unfrozen assets.
After it was revealed that President Obama had paid a $1.7 billion ransom (for the release of hostages) to Iran as part of a secret side deal, Backemeyer misled the American people in proclaiming that the money had not gone to Iran’s terrorism-involved Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC). In fact, some cash did make its way to IRGC coffers.
To make matters worse, Backemeyer has recently spoken at an annual confab hosted by the National Iranian American Council (NIAC), a pro-Tehran organization that Iranian dissidents suspect is a front for the Ayatollah’s theocracy.
Stephen Mull, the other State Department official who the Wall Street Journal suggested played an integral role in drafting the memo, has been described as Obama’s Iran deal “czar.”
In pushing for the deal, Mull sent a letter to all 50 state governors asking them to reconsider and axe sanctions against Iran. His letter was described by current House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows, R-N.C., as “pro-Iranian marketing material.”
Separately, in the heat of Hillary Clinton’s email scandal, Mull appeared to act as a shield for his former boss. In a deposition, Mull suddenly could not “recall” anything regarding Clinton’s use of a private email server, even though he had emailed her discussing the matter previously.
The Trump administration has less than 90 days to reevaluate whether Iran is abiding by the terms of the nuclear deal. Having Mull and Backemeyer in such prominent roles in the process, however, creates a conflict of interest due to their partisan agendas.
These latest reports add more troubling evidence to indicate that Mull and Backemeyer continue to service the Obama agenda at the State Department. Still, there are encouraging signs coming from the White House signaling that the pro-Iran deal operatives may not be able to continue advancing their agenda unchecked much longer.
Last week, the Trump administration reassigned Sahar Nowrouzzadeh, “who helped shape the Iran deal,” into a lesser role at State. The Iran deal booster was booted from her position as director of the Persian Gulf region on Sec. Rex Tillerson’s policy planning staff. The reassignment followed a Conservative Review report on her prominent role in the State Department.
Like Nowrouzzadeh, Mull and Backemeyer are designated as “civil service” employees of the federal government, which shields them from hasty termination. This issue has led activists to call for legislation to reform the overwhelming protections granted to unaccountable bureaucrats in the civil service.
Jordan Schachtel is the national security correspondent for CR. follow him on Twitter @JordanSchachtel.
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