Corker is the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee
He was a vehement critic of the Obama administration's Iran deal
President Donald Trump keeps claiming that Sen. Bob Corker supported the Iran nuclear deal.
But he didn’t.
Trump took to Twitter on Tuesday to claim that Tennessee Republican helped “give us” the nuclear deal with Iran negotiated by President Barack Obama’s administration. Earlier this month, he claimed that Corker is “largely responsible for the horrendous Iran Deal!”
Corker, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, was in fact a vehement critic of the deal that emerged from international negotiations in the summer of 2015. After the deal was unveiled, he wrote in an op-ed for The Washington Post that “Congress should reject this deal and send it back to the President.”
Corker plotted efforts to block the deal, banding with Republicans – and even some Democrats – in an attempt to block the deal.
The following month, Corker did just that, joining with the bipartisan group to vote against the deal. A procedural vote to move forward a resolution to reject the nuclear deal fell shy of the required 60-vote threshold.
Even before that vote, Corker helped push through the legislation that would ultimately grant Congress powers to review the deal, which the Obama administration contemplated approving without congressional oversight.
Corker said such an attempt would be “a direct affront to the American people and seeks to undermine Congress’ appropriate role” in a March 2015 letter to Obama.
Corker’s calls for congressional review of the nuclear deal that was still being negotiated in the spring of 2015 ultimately led to the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act, which Obama ultimately signed despite initially opposing the measure.
That could be what White House press secretary Sarah Sanders was referring to on October 10 when she claimed: “Sen. Corker worked with Nancy Pelosi and the Obama administration to pave the way for that legislation and basically rolled out the red carpet for the Iran deal, and those are pretty factual.”
But that claim is also wildly misleading as the legislation was supported by overwhelming bipartisan majorities in both the House and the Senate – where it passed 98-1 – and granted Congress the opportunity to review the Iran nuclear deal before sanctions were lifted on Iran.
The lone vote against the legislation came from Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Arkansas, an Iran hawk who along with other hardline Republicans argued that the bill should have done more to strengthen congressional oversight and grant the Senate an up-or-down vote on the deal.
Corker defended the bill against that criticism in September 2015, noting that the legislation “actually took power back from the president.”
“Without it, he could have unilaterally implemented the deal immediately. The President never would have been forced to submit the agreement to Congress and there would have been no review and no debate on this critical national security issue,” Corker said then.
The legislation, which was supported by major opponents of the Iran nuclear deal, also requires the President of the United States to certify or decertify Iran’s compliance with the nuclear deal every 90 days, a process Trump used earlier this month for the first time to decertify Iran’s compliance with the deal.
Trump’s move to decertify Iran’s compliance now puts the fate of snapping back sanctions against Iran in Congress’s hands.
Trump’s criticism of Corker on the Iran deal is also curious given that Trump initially considered Corker as a candidate for vice president and later secretary of state, in large part due to his foreign policy chops.