Last Tuesday I wrote an article about the New York Times interview by Ben Rhodes. The Sunday New York Times Magazine featured a rather lengthy interview with Mr. Rhodes. In the interview, Ben Rhodes essentially brags about taking advantage of the ignorance of young White House reporters in spinning the Iran nuclear deal.
The New York Times article quotes Ben Rhodes:
Rhodes singled out a key example to me one day, laced with the brutal contempt that is a hallmark of his private utterances. “All these newspapers used to have foreign bureaus,” he said. “Now they don’t. They call us to explain to them what’s happening in Moscow and Cairo. Most of the outlets are reporting on world events from Washington. The average reporter we talk to is 27 years old, and their only reporting experience consists of being around political campaigns. That’s a sea change. They literally know nothing.”
Well, Congress asked Mr. Rhodes to testify about the Iran nuclear deal and his actions in selling it. Mr. Rhodes (and President Obama) were not interested in talking to an audience that might be less than friendly and that might actually be seeking the truth.
Fox News posted a story today about Mr. Rhodes’ refusal to testify.
The article states:
Chaffetz, R-Utah, chairman of the House Oversight Committee, wanted the deputy national security adviser to testify at a hearing set for Tuesday titled, “White House narratives on the Iran Nuclear Deal.”
“We’re planning as if he is attending, and he’ll have a comfortable seat awaiting his arrival,” Chaffetz said Monday afternoon of Rhodes.
But W. Neil Eggleston, White House counsel, sent a letter to Chaffetz late Monday saying Rhodes would not attend.
He cited what appeared to be an executive privilege-related claim, asserting that such a senior presidential adviser’s appearance “threatens the independence and autonomy of the President, as well as his ability to receive candid advice and counsel.” For those reasons, he said, “we will not make Mr. Rhodes available to testify.”
Chaffetz earlier had made a last-ditch attempt to pressure Rhodes into appearing. After White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest initially said he should invite GOP Sen. Tom Cotton, whom he accuses of spreading false information about the deal, Chaffetz did exactly that — inviting Cotton to testify, on condition that Rhodes appeared as well.
“[Earnest] suggested that you should be invited to appear at the hearing as well, because you have some ‘interesting insight’ into the JCPOA [the Iran deal]. Therefore your appearance before the Committee would be contingent on Mr. Rhodes’ appearance at that hearing,” Chaffetz said in a letter Friday.
It seems very ironic to me that Mr. Rhodes is willing to tell all to The New York Times but not willing to talk to Congress.
The article at Fox News explains why Congress requested Mr. Rhodes to appear:
Sources tell Fox News that the committee was keen for Rhodes to appear voluntarily so they avoid the territory of a possible subpoena.
The magazine article that touched off the controversy outlined how Rhodes created a narrative of the deal coming out of the 2013 election of “moderate” Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Iran’s subsequent “openness” and willingness to negotiate.
In fact, the story stated, the majority of the deal was hammered out in 2012, well before Rouhani’s election. However, the Rhodes narrative was politically useful to the administration as it presented them as reaching out to the moderates who wanted peace.
Congress needs to hold the President (and his ‘truth-spinner’) accountable for the lies that were told to gain acceptance of a treaty that will eventually be a threat to America‘s national security. It is very telling to me that Ben Rhodes was willing to spend as many hours as it took to get his interview in The New York Times but is not willing to talk to Congress.