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Tom Cotton: ‘Van Drivers and Campaign Flacks and Failed Novelists’ in Charge of Obama National Security Team

Tuesday on Hugh Hewitt’s radio show, Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) took aim at President Barack Obama’s foreign policy and national security team for it’s handing of Iran and its rhetoric reacting Cotton’s criticisms of the deal.

Cotton described Obama’s national security team as “van drivers and campaign flacks and failed novelists” and said none of them “had ever seen anything more dangerous than a shoving match when they were playing beer pong in the back of a bar in Georgetown.”

Partial transcript as follows:

HEWITT: How did you become public enemy number one at the White House?

COTTON: Just a few things happened. I guess I became public enemy number one at the White House, Hugh, because I’m telling the truth about the Iran deal. Look, what you just played, and some of the coverage of Ben Rhodes is what happens when you put van drivers and campaign flacks and failed novelists in charge of foreign policy and national security. And that chump may think that subsidizing Iran’s nuclear program with millions of dollars is a laughing matter. I don’t think it’s that funny. And if he or anyone else over there had ever been man enough to put on the uniform and pick up the rifle, and have to lead men in dodging Iranian-made bombs, they might not be laughing, either.

HEWITT: That’s where I come down to. Put aside Josh Earnest and Ben Rhodes, who is going to be eclipsed by history in about one minute after he loses his 1600 Pennsylvania pass. No one’s going to talk to him. But go to the reality of what they did. The reality of what they did is arm Iran and give terrorists $150 billion dollars. I don’t even know how anyone argues with the $150 billion dollars in sanctions relief. That’s what the Iranians wanted.

COTTON: And Hugh, also, just let me speak specifically to the point about the amount of relief that Iran will get from this deal. Now President Obama has put the estimate at times well north of $100 billion dollars. But Hugh, now you’ve got flacks in the White House and John Kerry and other senior administration officials running around saying oh, it’s only $3 billion, it’s only $5 billion. This administration has a pattern of telling the truth in classified settings, and then misleading or misinforming the American people in public settings. I sit on the Intelligence Committee and the Armed Services Committee. I have had repeated briefings about the Iran nuclear deal, some just a few weeks old. They come from non-partisan, professional intelligence analysts. And I can’t tell you the number that they have briefed us recently, but I can tell you it’s a hell of a lot closer to $150 billion dollars than it is to $3 billion dollars. And sitting in that briefing was a political appointee named Andrew Exum at the Department of Defense, and any reporter who wants to know should go listen to him, because I gave him a piece of my mind, not because it’s his fault, but he is the political appointee who is there as the representative of administration policy. And it’s time that the administration came clean and told the American people exactly what they tell Congress in a classified setting. And the fact of the matter is the amount of sanctions relief is a lot closer to $150 billion dollars than it is to $3 billion dollars.

HEWITT: So the administration has a pattern of telling Congress in classified setting something very different from what Josh Earnest says?

COTTON: Yes, and not just on the nuclear deal, on a whole range of national security matters, because they want to conceal just how calamitous their security policy around the world has been for American interests.

HEWITT: Now Senator Cotton, do you think Josh Earnest has a clue about what is, I mean, honestly, this isn’t a personal thing. But do you think Josh Earnest and Ben Rhodes have a clue about who the Iranians are, about the revolutionary government there, about Khomeini and Khamenei and what is really going on?

COTTON: No, I don’t, Hugh. You know, most of who’s left in the administration now are all these yes men and fan boys who were van drivers or press flacks for Barack Obama in Iowa and New Hampshire in 2008. This reminds me of the time back during the big fight over Obamacare and the government spending bill in the fall of 2013. And one of the guys over there accused the House Republicans of being suicide bombers, if you recall that?

HEWITT: Oh, yeah.

COTTON: As if any of them had ever seen anything more dangerous than a shoving match when they were playing beer pong in the back of a bar in Georgetown.

HEWITT: And so given all that, I know you’ll continue to press on and make this, but is the issue closed? What can we do about Iran? We’ve got 45 seconds. What are we going to do?

COTTON: Unfortunately, the issue is not closed, because Iran is still continuing its reign of terror throughout the Middle East, and continuing its industrial-sized nuclear program. They’re continuing to launch ballistic missiles, and fund terrorist groups, and threaten U.S. interests throughout the region. The American people have decided on this. We saw yet again last week in a vote on my amendment to ban further subsidies to Iran’s nuclear program, we got 57 Senators. You don’t get to 57 Senators unless there’s a broad, bipartisan agreement around the country among the American people. Now the President may not change course for the next eight months, but I suspect the next president will.

Follow Jeff Poor on Twitter @jeff_poor

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