After reluctantly recertifying the Iran deal for a second time, a frustrated President Trump concluded that much of his top staff had failed to provide him with options other than to continue the nuclear agreement with the terrorist regime in Tehran.
Trump was incensed with high-level cabinet members, such as Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who came to Iran deal review meetings with no information about alternate options. Tillerson, who continues to staff top positions in his State Department with pro-Iran-deal Obama administration holdovers, relied on the bureaucracy in Foggy Bottom for advice. To nobody’s surprise, he advocated that recertification was the only option. Tillerson and other cabinet members, like national security adviser H.R. McMaster, pushed for continuing the deal, so the president signed off.
After President Trump recertified the deal for a second time in mid-July, upset with Tillerson’s lack of preparation, he decided to task a new team of White House advisers with independently review of the Iran deal. He did not want to get only the recertification option a third time.
This action comforted skeptics of the deal. The new White House Iran review team, composed of more hawkish advisers, would get to the bottom of whether it was in the American interest to recertify the deal.
However, the team tasked with Iran deal review only about one month ago has already virtually vanished.
Derek Harvey, the National Security Council’s top Middle East adviser, was recently fired by national security adviser H.R. McMaster. An Iran hawk, he was likely to play a large role in the review process.
Steve Bannon, the president’s former chief strategist, has also been let go. Bannon is a known adversary of the Ayatollah’s regime.
Victoria Coates was another top NSC official who, according to Foreign Policy, was also assigned to the Iran review team. She has been reassigned to the Arab-Israeli peace team led by Trump confidants Jared Kushner and Jason Greenblatt.
Three other members of the reported Iran review team — White House official Sebastian Gorka, NSC spokesman Michael Anton, and NSC official Joel Rayburn — continue in their positions at the White House.
But now that half of the Iran review team has collapsed, could this mean that the president will recertify the nuclear deal once again?
Iran continues to abuse and violate the nuclear deal time and time again. However, with so many foreign policy agenda items on the president’s desk — such as a new strategy for Afghanistan, a concerted investment in the Middle East’s Islamic civil wars, and engaging in the Arab-Israeli peace process — the president may decide to once again kick the can down the road and continue to recertify the broken nuclear deal.
The President has until mid-October to decide if he will once again break his campaign promise to “rip up” the Iran deal.
The National Security Council did not respond to multiple requests for comment about the status of the Iran deal review team at the White House.
Jordan Schachtel is the national security correspondent for Conservative Review. Follow him on Twitter @JordanSchachtel.
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