White House says Corker 'rolled out the red carpet' for Iran nuclear deal, which he actually opposed

Key Points
  • Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Sen. Bob Corker "rolled out the red carpet for the Iran deal."
  • "The claim is not true," Corker's office said.
  • Corker actually led the Republican opposition to the Iran nuclear deal.
Sens. Bob Corker, R-Tenn.
Tom Williams | CQ Roll Call | Getty Images

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders doubled down on President Donald Trump's claim that Sen. Bob Corker is responsible for the Iran nuclear deal, despite the Republican lawmaker's long opposition to the accord.

During a heated back-and-forth, Trump on Sunday tweeted that Corker "gave us the Iran deal," a 2015 agreement negotiated by the Obama administration that lifted sanctions on Iran in exchange for limits on its nuclear program. Trump has called the deal an "embarrassment."

@RealDonaldTrump: Bob Corker gave us the Iran Deal, & that's about it. We need HealthCare, we need Tax Cuts/Reform, we need people that can get the job done!

Asked during the White House press briefing on Tuesday to clarify the president's tweet, Sanders said, "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."

"The claim is not true," Micah Johnson, communications director for Sen. Corker, told CNBC in an email.

Corker, the chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, actually led the Republican opposition to the Iran nuclear deal. He warned early on that the Obama administration would avoid negotiating the accord as a treaty, thus cutting Congress out of the process.

In response, Corker introduced a bipartisan bill that required Congress to review any agreement with Iran before the president waived sanctions imposed by lawmakers. The bill, which opened the possibility for Congress to effectively kill the nuclear deal, passed overwhelmingly.

@SenBobCorker: It's a shame the White House has become an adult day care center. Someone obviously missed their shift this morning.

A procedural measure that could have blocked the accord failed in the Senate by two votes. Corker voted against the Iran nuclear deal.

Some conservatives have argued that Corker's legislation, the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act, teed up the failed attempt to kill the deal. Sanders appeared to revive that argument on Tuesday.

"He worked with them on that INARA legislation that rolled that out. That's what helped, I think, put things in motion," she said. "He may have voted against the deal ultimately, but he not only allowed the deal to happen, he gave it credibility."

Trump will soon refuse to certify to Congress that the Iran nuclear deal remains in the country's national security interest, according to multiple reports. The president must certify to Congress that Iran is complying with the deal every 90 days. That is mandated by INARA, the legislation Corker introduced.

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