The White House on Monday refused to allow Ben Rhodes, a senior adviser to President Barack Obama, to testify before a House committee about how he promoted the Iran nuclear deal to the public.
White House counsel Neil Eggleston said in a letter to the House Oversight Committee that allowing deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes to testify would threaten the president’s “ability to receive candid advice.”
Rhodes stirred up controversy last week when he told The New York Times Magazine that he intentionally created an “echo chamber” of supporters to build public support for the nuclear agreement.
Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz said Rhodes should have to explain and clarify his remarks.
Eggleston responded that presidents of both parties have invoked executive privilege and declined to allow aides to testify.
The House Oversight Committee held the hearing on Tuesday, even though Rhodes did not attend it.
Chaffetz, at the beginning of the hearing, said “there’s still a shroud of secrecy” surrounding the Iran deal and he wanted to hear from Rhodes to seek “clarity.”
“I do not doubt his talents and his knowledge,” Chaffetz said. “But the deal that had been spun up and sold to the American public, I’m not sure it was as clear as it should have been.”
Republican condemnation of Rhodes reached new levels on Tuesday, as several senators urged President Barack Obama to fire him.
“While members of the Executive and Legislative branches may sometimes deeply disagree on issues of vital importance to our nation’s security and prosperity, we should all agree, for the greater good of our Republic and the citizens whom we represent, to engage in our debates in a respectful, honest, and constructive manner. Mr. Rhodes’s disrespectful, deceptive, and destructive conduct has fallen appallingly short of this standard, however. Indeed, if he had conducted himself this way in a typical place of business outside Washington, where American taxpayers work, he surely would have been already fired or asked to resign,” they wrote in a letter to Obama, according to Fox News.
The Washington Free Beacon, which first reported on the letter, said it was signed by Sens. Mark Kirk, R-Ill.; John Cornyn, R-Texas; John Barrasso, R-Wyo.; and David Perdue, R-Ga.
By: AP and United with Israel Staff
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