Foreign policy experts and Republican operatives who supported President Donald Trump’s campaign — and his promise of discarding his predecessor’s nuclear deal — greeted Trump’s decision Tuesday to reimpose sanctions on Iran with a deluge of support.
The 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the product of protracted negotiations led by then-Secretary of State John Kerry, was widely viewed as the Obama administration’s signature foreign policy achievement. By the terms of the agreement, Iran would accept restrictions to and inspections of its nuclear program designed to prevent them from developing a nuclear weapon in exchange for the cessation of the western sanctions crippling their economy.
At the time, Republicans, foreign policy interventionists, and the American Jewish community met the nuclear deal with broad opposition. From the very beginning of Trump’s presidential campaign in 2015, the candidate called the deal an “outrage” and the product of “gross incompetence” on the part of the Obama administration. In February 2016, Trump ranked ending the Iran deal as his “number one priority” in a speech to the American-Israeli Political Affairs Committee (AIPAC).
As an exclusively executive agreement, it did not need ratification from the U.S. Senate, where a resolution of disapproval had majority support but was unable to overcome a filibuster threat. However, this also means President Trump had the authority to unilaterally withdraw from the agreement, a prerogative he exercised Tuesday, making good on his campaign promise.
On the campaign, the president’s son Eric Trump once went so far as to say the Iran deal was one of the major factors that drove his father to run. His brother Donald Trump Jr. took this declaration full circle when he celebrated with a tweet:
And we’re out. Another promise fulfilled ✔️
“When I make promises I keep them” @realDonaldTrump
— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) May 8, 2018
The response from the anti-Iran deal forces that played a key roll in Trump’s electoral coalition Tuesday has been substantial and enthusiastic, especially among those directly involved in the campaign and forming the early Trump administration’s foreign policy.
As he prepared to take up his post as adviser to President Trump in January 2017, Fox News commentator and former Breitbart News foreign policy editor Dr. Sebastian Gorka called the Iran deal the worst legacy President Barack Obama left the new White House to contend with. On Tuesday, he told Breitbart News, “The JCPOA empowered our Enemies. The President has to kill it and he did. I know a politician keeping his promises is unheard of. But when he says America First he meant it!”
“Unlike so many politicians before him, President Trump is listening to his core supporters and following thru on the promises he made them during the campaign,” Andy Surabian, a GOP strategist and former special assistant to President Trump, told Breitbart News.
Another Trump transition official, State Department “landing team” member and Breitbart News contributor Rob Wasinger, told Breitbart News, “President Trump is re-establishing our role in the world and fulfilling a campaign promise.”
Trump’s first campaign chairman Corey Lewandowski celebrated the news on Twitter:
Thank you @realDonaldTrump! Trump: "Today's action sends a critical message. The United States no longer makes empty threats. When I make promises, I keep them." I never get tired of putting America FIRST!
— Corey R. Lewandowski (@CLewandowski_) May 8, 2018
Trump loyalist commentator and One America News political correspondent Jack Posobiec used Twitter to make light of the situation:
Iran nuke deal cancelled
North Korean hostages coming home
What exactly are these people Resisting?
— Jack Posobiec 🇺🇸 (@JackPosobiec) May 8, 2018
How long before a judge in Hawaii declares Iran must have nuclear weapons?
— Jack Posobiec 🇺🇸 (@JackPosobiec) May 8, 2018
The Republican Party apparatus and some sitting congressional Republicans also heaped praise on President Trump’s action.
“The Iran agreement was built on the lies of a leading state sponsor of terrorism, preserving its nuclear capability and allowing the regime to build a nuclear weapon in several years,” Republican National Committee (RNC) Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel said in a statement Tuesday. “President Trump’s decision fulfills a promise he made to the American people and corrects an Obama-era mistake that should never have been made.”
“From the very beginning, I have expressed my strong disapproval of the Iran Deal,” House Freedom Caucus member Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) said in a statement. “America went from preventing to encouraging Iran’s nuclear capabilities while scuttling every goal established.”
President Trump’s decision to impose crippling sanctions against the Iranian regime is a step in the right direction to halting Iranian activities. I support President Trump’s work to reverse the problems this fundamentally-flawed “deal” created for the United States and our allies.
In a statement, fellow Freedom Caucus member Rep. Scott DesJarlais (R-TN) said:
Not only has Iran already violated the terms of Barack Obama’s weak agreement, the regime has flagrantly violated U.N. resolutions restricting its ballistic missile tests and taken more American hostages, while others remained imprisoned. President Trump rightfully withdrew from the JCPOA, and we will work together to hold Iran to account for its nuclear program, terrorism and attacks on our allies.