Rep. Jason Chaffetz presses Ben Rhodes to testify on Capitol Hill following the White House aide’s comments about how the Obama administration duped liberal journalists and think-tankers into supporting the Iran nuclear deal.
The hearing comes on short notice, just days after Rhodes’s comments in a New York Times Magazine story caused a stir across Washington.
GOP aides are “rushing” to make the arrangements, a Democratic staffer notified of the plans said.
Rep. Elijah Cummings (Md.), the oversight panel’s top Democrat, called the move a “break from normal notice rules” that amounted to “reactionary grandstanding.”
“It seems fairly clear what this really is: a partisan rush to attack Ben Rhodes just to chase cheap headlines rather than a substantive review of foreign policy objectives,” he said in a statement.
In the profile of the 38-year-old former fiction writer, Rhodes is quoted as boasting about creating an “echo chamber” of experts and journalists supportive of the deal.
He is depicted as crafting a false narrative that the nuclear deal — which set limits on Iran’s ability to build a nuclear bomb in exchange for lifting international sanctions — would empower the country’s moderates at the expense of hardliners such as Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. In fact, the article asserts, the deal was part of a grander plan to reshape the U.S.’s role in the Middle East.
“I mean, I’d prefer a sober, reasoned public debate, after which members of Congress reflect and take a vote,” he is quoted as saying. “But that’s impossible.”
Republicans, who uniformly opposed the Iran deal last year, have aggressively criticized the White House over the remarks.
House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) accused the administration of having “essentially misled the American people.”