Mitch McConnell Hits Back at ‘Manufactured Controversy’ Over Republican Letter to Iran
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) hit back on Sunday at critics of the recent letter sent to Iran by Republican senators, led by freshman Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR), calling their outrage a “manufactured controversy.”
McConnell, who had signed on to the letter to Iran’s leaders along with 46 other Republican senators, seemed undeterred in the certainty that sending the letter was a correct move, despite the fact that President Obama, Democrats and even some other Republicans criticized the letter as an attempt to undermine negotiations.
McConnell said the letter, which warned Iran that a nuclear deal reached with the White House may not hold longer than the Obama presidency, was by no means, “unprecedented,” as Secretary of State John Kerry and President Obama have claimed, calling it a “good case of selective outrage.” He pointed to the fact that, as a senator, John Kerry had met with Nicaraguan president Daniel Ortega, who was opposed by then-President Ronald Reagan.
He added that the reasoning behind the letter was that “the President is about to make what we believe is a very bad deal. He clearly doesn’t want Congress involved at all. And we’re worried about it,” McConnell told CNN. “The president would like to keep us out of [the deal]. We know that. All of this is a distraction away from the point here,” said McConnell.
Dodging questions as to whether Republicans were creating the distraction and whether the letter politicized an issue on which Republicans are trying to achieve bipartisan consensus, McConnell repeated his contention that Obama’s Administration is on the verge of reaching “a very bad deal with one of the worse regimes in the world.”
Secretary Kerry voiced his outrage over the letter at a Senate Foreign relations Committee hearing and later on CBS’s “Face the Nation,” alleging that Congress improperly inserted itself into talks with another country’s leader, warning them, “Don’t negotiate with these guys because we’re going to change this,” Kerry said. “It is incorrect because they cannot change an executive agreement.”
Republican lawmakers have also criticized the letter, worrying that it would undermine bipartisan support for legislation that would require Congressional oversight and approval of a final deal. But McConnell was also undeterred by the criticism from his own party, saying “Why would they use some dispute like this, some controversy like this…to get in the way of their judgment [on Iran’s nuclear program],” said McConnell. “We’re alarmed about it, a number of Democrats are alarmed about it – we will be acting,” he added.