August 1, 2021

White House Won’t Let Ben Rhodes Testify On Iran Nuclear Deal

White House Won’t Let Ben Rhodes Testify On Iran Deal The White House has ruled out the possibility of Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes testifying about the Iran nuclear deal before a House committee on Tuesday, calling it a “separation of powers” issue that raises “significant constitutional concerns.”

The decision is laid out in a letter Monday to House Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz from White House counsel W. Neil Eggleston, and it is likely to raise even more of a ruckus on Capitol Hill, where Republican lawmakers are eager to tear into Rhodes about his role in selling the public on the controversial agreement.

“The appearance of a senior presidential adviser before Congress threatens the independence and the autonomy of the president, as well as his ability to receive candid advice and counsel in the discharge of his constitutional duties,” Eggleston writes in the letter.

The letter does not say the Obama administration is invoking “executive privilege” in keeping Rhodes away, but the administration prefers to avoid that term whenever possible. Generally speaking, Obama aides won’t say they are asserting the privilege unless further legal steps are involved, such as a subpoena being issued.

Rhodes has been under heavy fire from Republicans in recent days after a New York Times Magazine profile of the former aspiring fiction writer implied that he and his colleagues had misled Americans about the nuclear deal by creating an “echo chamber” of allies who promoted the administration’s talking points and emphasizing a timeline that suggested negotiations began later than they really did.

Backlash over the article led Chaffetz to request Rhodes testify before the panel. The Utah Republican said on Fox News earlier Monday that Rhodes has “given every indication that he will attend” the hearing and that White House officials “haven’t said that he won’t attend.”

Asked if he’s prepared to issue a subpoena if Rhodes does not show up, Chaffetz said: “Maybe. It’s a definite maybe. I mean, I have the ability to issue a subpoena.

I hope it doesn’t come to that, and have no indication that I would have to do that.”

Excerpts from Politico.