REPORT: President Trump Has Decided to Refuse to Certify Iran’s Nuclear Deal Compliance

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, center, leaves the parliament after his speech in a session to debate his proposed cabinet, in Tehran, Iran, Tuesday, Aug. 15, 2017. Iran's president issued a direct threat to the West on Tuesday, claiming his country is capable of restarting its nuclear program within hours — and quickly bringing it to even more advanced levels than in 2015, when Iran signed the nuclear deal with world powers. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, center, leaves the parliament after his speech in a session to debate his proposed cabinet, in Tehran, Iran, Tuesday, Aug. 15, 2017. Iran’s president issued a direct threat to the West on Tuesday, claiming his country is capable of restarting its nuclear program within hours — and quickly bringing it to even more advanced levels than in 2015, when Iran signed the nuclear deal with world powers. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)

 

NBC is reporting, citing several sources, that President Trump will refuse to certify that Iran is in compliance with the terms of the nuclear deal, the JCPOA, and he will do so before the October 15 deadline to report to Congress on Iran’s performance.

President Trump is leaning toward decertifying the Iran nuclear deal and putting the decision of whether the U.S. will withdraw from the accord in the hands of Congress, according to four sources — including one senior administration official — familiar with the White House deliberations.

Such a move would come prior to an Oct. 15 deadline and would trigger a 60-day window for lawmakers to determine whether to reimpose sanctions related to Iran’s nuclear program that were lifted as part of the 2015 agreement. The president’s goal during that time is to prod America’s European allies, who are part of the nuclear deal, to agree to renegotiate some provisions, and pressure Iran back into talks.

Still, several of the sources caution the president could change his mind over the next three weeks as he faces pushback from allies internationally.

As I posted a few days ago, Trump has several paths he could take on certification:

These are the options and there are factions in the government in favor of all of them:

1 – Decertify and stay in the deal, then focus on Congressional action — this is the mainstream “waive & slap then decertify & fix” option. It came out of policy shops like FDD and ISIS, and was outlined last week by Ambassador Haley. The deal should be decertified because it fails condition 4 (it’s not “vital to national interest”) and/or condition 1 (Iran is not “fully implementing” the paragraph 28 of the JCPOA, the weapons and personnel prohibitions of UNSCR 2231, the military site access requirements of the Additional Protocol, etc. The administration would then use leverage created by the threat or reality of Congressional action to strengthen weaknesses in the deal.

2 – Decertify and stay in the deal, then threaten to reimpose secondary sanctions — this is a new option. It comes from a plan that’s been circulating but hadn’t been described before today’s AP story. Here’s the AP outline: “… decertify Iran and threaten to restore nuclear sanctions on Iran at any point as well as so-called “secondary sanctions” that could cut off European and other banks and businesses that do business with Iran from the U.S. financial system.” The administration would then threaten to get physical with banks unless the Iranians modified their behavior and agreed to strengthen the deal.

3 – Decertify and stay in the deal, then focus on executive action — Here’s the AP outline: “… have Trump issue a new executive order setting out a timeline for the agreement to be amended or supplemented with bans or further limitations on uranium enrichment and ballistic missile testing.” The administration would then use leverage created by the move to strengthen weaknesses in the deal.

4 – Decertify and withdraw from the deal — this option has been outlined and advocated most prominently by Amb Bolton. The argument is that the deal can’t be enforced or fixed. In August Bolton published a white paper charting the tactics and strategy that would be used to manage to withdrawal.

5 – Certify — this is the State Department option. Secretary Tillerson says he disagrees with the president on the Iran deal and the State Department is reportedly in “open war” against the White House on the issue. After the July certification, Iran deal advocates inside the State Department launched multiple open-ended initiatives to ‘test’ and ‘strengthen’ the deal, which would allow them to indefinitely argue that decertification is premature. This AP report says Tillerson presented the president with the latest version of State’s certification plan this week, which promised to pursue ‘fixes’ earlier this week.

According to NBC, Trump has added an additional course of action:

The senior administration official said the president has resolved not to continue the “status quo,” but that he’s considering at least one other option related to the deal.

That option, according to two officials, would give European allies the option of 90 days to get on board with renegotiation — rather than punt the decision to Congress. Administration officials are still in talks with those allies, and with Republicans on Capitol Hill.

I don’t see this happening, not that the Euros won’t get on board but that Rouhani can’t politically survive the climb down that would be necessary for Iran to renegotiate the deal.

My personal view is that the best solution here is for Trump to declare Iran out of compliance and kick the matter to Congress. Hopefully, he can use that as an opportunity that will structure future sanctions against Iran in a way that requires Congressional approval of lifting/modifying them rather than giving the president carte blanche to lift sanctions, as was the case with Obama. Going forward will require close coordination between Congress and the White House and not is a good time to get everyone on the same sheet of music.

Well, good luck with that.

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Iran’s Hassan Rouhani Makes an Demand of President Trump

Iran's President Hassan Rouhani  listens during a news conference on his visit for the United Nations General Assembly, Wednesday Sept. 20, 2017, in New York. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani listens during a news conference on his visit for the United Nations General Assembly, Wednesday Sept. 20, 2017, in New York. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)

While much attention was focused on the message President Trump directed at North Korea in his speech to the UN General Assembly yesterday, he also blistered the criminal regime in Tehran:

We face this decision not only in North Korea. It is far past time for the nations of the world to confront another reckless regime — one that speaks openly of mass murder, vowing death to America, destruction to Israel, and ruin for many leaders and nations in this room.

The Iranian government masks a corrupt dictatorship behind the false guise of a democracy. It has turned a wealthy country with a rich history and culture into an economically depleted rogue state whose chief exports are violence, bloodshed, and chaos. The longest-suffering victims of Iran’s leaders are, in fact, its own people.

Rather than use its resources to improve Iranian lives, its oil profits go to fund Hezbollah and other terrorists that kill innocent Muslims and attack their peaceful Arab and Israeli neighbors. This wealth, which rightly belongs to Iran’s people, also goes to shore up Bashar al-Assad’s dictatorship, fuel Yemen’s civil war, and undermine peace throughout the entire Middle East.

We cannot let a murderous regime continue these destabilizing activities while building dangerous missiles, and we cannot abide by an agreement if it provides cover for the eventual construction of a nuclear program. (Applause.) The Iran Deal was one of the worst and most one-sided transactions the United States has ever entered into. Frankly, that deal is an embarrassment to the United States, and I don’t think you’ve heard the last of it — believe me.

It is time for the entire world to join us in demanding that Iran’s government end its pursuit of death and destruction. It is time for the regime to free all Americans and citizens of other nations that they have unjustly detained. And above all, Iran’s government must stop supporting terrorists, begin serving its own people, and respect the sovereign rights of its neighbors.

The entire world understands that the good people of Iran want change, and, other than the vast military power of the United States, that Iran’s people are what their leaders fear the most. This is what causes the regime to restrict Internet access, tear down satellite dishes, shoot unarmed student protestors, and imprison political reformers.

Tehran used to eight years of being sucked up to by the Obama regime seemed taken aback by the speech.

And this nugget:

Mr. Rouhani followed his United Nations speech about an hour later with an hourlong news conference, in which he denounced what he called Mr. Trump’s “completely baseless allegations” about Iran, demanded an apology and said the Iran nuclear agreement was final and could not be amended, reopened or renegotiated.

I’m sure if Rouhani consulted with a rando rug merchant in Tehran’s bazaars he’d discover that there is no such thing at a deal that can’t “be amended, reopened or renegotiated.”

I’m going to go out on a limb here and predict that this is probably not going to happen.

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A Must-Watch: The O’Donnell-O’Reilly Meltdown Mash-up You Didn’t Know You Needed

Mediaite published leaked video it received of MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell melting down in spectacular fashion while off-air on August 29. The video is exactly what you’d expect from O’Donnell’s ilk. Lots of swearing and over-the-top outrage that would make his Irish ancestors proud.

Of course, it brought recollections and comparisons to another Irish American television host’s epic meltdown. Bill O’Reilly’s famous “We’ll do it live!” video lives in infamy.

Naturally, a mash-up video was a must in the age of the internet and our friends at the Washington Free Beacon did not disappoint. It’s simply hilarity perfected.

Watch:

Nice work, guys. (And by “guys” I mean people of all genders working there, obviously).

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With the Iran Nuclear Deal on the Table, Tillerson and Haley Find Themselves at Odds

Nikki Haley would make a better Secretary of State, anyway, if you ask me.

The Washington Free Beacon is reporting on an internal rift between Ambassador Haley and current Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, in regards to the ill-advised Iran deal.

The Reader’s Digest version is that Tillerson loves the deal and wants to keep it, as is. Haley, on the other hand, balks at the notion of Tillerson’s support, and feels he’s working directly against President Trump’s agenda.

The division is one of several that Tillerson has sparked within the administration, particularly in the West Wing, where the secretary of state has been described as in “open war” with Trump on a series of major foreign policy issues, including Iran and the Israel-Palestinian impasse.

“The tension between Rex and Nikki is the worst kept secret in the State Department,” according to one veteran foreign policy hand who has been in close contact with the State Department on the issue.

Haley “thinks that [Tillerson is] trying to undermine the president and preserve Obama’s Iran legacy, which is true,” explained the source, who would only discuss the sensitive matter on background. “He thinks she’s running her own foreign policy and auditioning for his job, which is also true.”

You can count me as Team Nikki, here.

They’ve managed to keep the tensions under wraps, for most part, not willing to let the world see anything but absolute unity, at least on the surface.

Both Tillerson and Haley attended a meeting together on Wednesday with world leaders, to discuss the future of the Iran deal.

Oh, to be a fly on the wall.

There have been some more public clashes, but those were shut down quickly, in order to protect that veneer of teamwork.

“It will keep happening as long as the secretary keeps working to force Trump to certify while the ambassador keeps working to promote what Trump says he wants,” the source said.

Opponents of the bill are looking to Haley, who they see as an ally.

“Tillerson is buying what the Europeans are selling and he’s really pushing the president to recertify,” said the source, who also requested anonymity to discuss internal conversations. “The Republicans on Capitol Hill don’t want this to fall into their lap so they’re backing Tillerson for now. Haley is doing what she can to fight for what’s right, but it might not matter if [Secretary of Defense] Mattis backs up Tillerson.”

“President Trump’s going to be totally humiliated by the Iranians if he falls for something this stupid,” the source said.

So does Mattis back Tillerson?

Remains to be seen.

“Haley clearly understands that the status quo is unsustainable,” said one senior congressional official involved in the matter. “She recognizes that the nuclear deal has been a complete disaster for the United States and our allies.”

“Meanwhile, Tillerson continues to pursue his own agenda at State with little regard for the president’s priorities,” the official said. “It’s good to see Haley stand firm as the voice of reason, and urge Tillerson and other Iran sympathizers to end their rogue behavior.”

One thing is for sure: Europe can’t be trusted to stand up to Iran, and they don’t like the idea that the U.S. might not recertify.

Foreign policy strategist, Richard Goldberg, was an architect of the sanctions against Iran, as a senior congressional adviser. He’s advising against recertifying and against trusting Europe to get tough with Iran in extreme situations.

“The president would be foolish to recertify Iran on Europe’s empty promise of “fixing” the deal,” said Goldberg, the author of a recent memo outlining for the Trump administration how it can remove the U.S. from the nuclear deal. “Unless European leaders credibly believe President Trump might reimpose sanctions at any moment, they will say nice things in meetings and do absolutely nothing to ‘fix’ a fundamentally bad deal they already accepted.”

Tough talk, but I believe him.

Goldberg goes on to suggest Trump’s best move would be to deem Iran as in violation of the agreement and to apply new sanctions.

“The president has no other option than to decertify and hold the re-imposition of sanctions over both Europe and Iran as a financial Sword of Damocles until we see behavioral change by the regime,” he said.

That sounds like a plan, but first, the internal issues with the administration need to be addressed, meaning, get Rex Tillerson on board with everybody else.

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Don’t Mistake Rand Paul’s Political Move on Obamacare for Morality

There are good reasons libertarians — and especially the Libertarian Party — has trouble ever successfully running a third-party campaign. One of them is likely the fact they never seem able to come to the table and compromise just to get things done.

The line has always been that libertarians take the moral high ground, even on some of the establishment conservative moves; loosely translated that means they are doing the hard job of protecting the freedoms of the average American from the mission-creep of the two-party system.

And so it is with Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, who has been very vocal, chatting up the press more than many of his colleagues, about just what he will deign to sign onto when it comes to the repeal and replace of Obamacare.

And he has no love for the newest iteration of repeal and replace, the Graham-Cassidy bill. RedState’s Kimberly Ross broke down the particulars of this new (and, frankly, surprising) effort to save the nation from single payer before the Sept. 30th deadline, after which repeal is no longer an option with a simple majority vote.

So, what’s driving our favorite libertarian conservative? After all, he voted for the sham “skinny” repeal that was only half-heartedly crafted last minute because everyone knew Sen. John McCain (AZ) was going to give it a thumbs down. Why is he back to being the principled libertarian now, especially since Graham-Cassidy is, by most conservative estimates, the better bill?

The Weekly Standard thinks they know.

Paul’s primary opposition — and it switches almost daily — has to do with the block granting of some of Obamacare’s spending back to the states with the caveat that the grants must be used for healthcare. Paul isn’t a fan of this idea, even though “skinny” repeal didn’t even offer this choice to the states, opting instead to retain all of Obamacare’s spending. And remember: Paul voted for that. So what gives?

Paul’s opposition to the block-grant approach is all the more puzzling because in July Paul voted for an amendment that would have block-granted most of the Obamacare spending. For procedural reasons, the block-grant approach is believed to be the only realistic way the Senate can stop Obamacare funding from paying for insurance plans that cover elective abortion.

Given his past comments and voting history, Paul seems more opposed to the particular way Graham-Cassidy distributes the block grants and not the overall amount of Obamacare spending it retains or the mere principle of block-granting Obamacare’s spending.

“It takes money from the Democrat states and gives it to the Republican states,” Paul said on Monday. Because the bill redistributes all of Obamacare’s spending nationwide, states that expanded Medicaid under Obamacare like California and New York would get less than they would under the Obamacare status quo, but non-expansion states like Virginia and Wisconsin would get more. Paul’s Kentucky expanded Medicaid.

And there you have it. Paul, like every other politician, has a constituency and he knows that if he wants to keep in good standing (and therefore keep his job) he needs to make sure that his state is getting paid, as it were.

The strange thing about this is that no one faults politicians for going to bat for their constituencies. It’s expected, if a little frustrating at times. Especially when it means the difference between single-payer and something not quite so market-busting.

But what makes Paul even more frustrating as a politician is that he doesn’t seem to want to admit that he’s a politician, playing principled outsider to the extent he has to change his mind, day to day, and with a blistering lack of rational motive.

If conservatives feel the frustration of Paul’s slippery moral stance, imagine how libertarians must feel. Their principled outsider is really just playing to his base, same as everyone else.

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The Trump Effect? Britain’s Theresa May Issues Stark Threat To U.N. (Video)

(AP Photo/Jason DeCrow)

A day after Pres. Donald Trump gave his “America First” speech at the United Nations, British Prime Minister Theresa May threatened to withhold 30 percent of the funds the country contributes to funding the international body if reforms aren’t made.

May said the gap between the U.N.’s nobility of purpose and its effectiveness needs to get smaller. The new U.N. secretary general, Antonio Guterres, promised to begin reforming the institution in order to do just that.

Pres. Trump also threatened to withdraw considerable funding from the United States to the U.N. if member countries didn’t honor their obligations in return.

With the two largest financial contributors to the U.N. threatening to withhold funds, one can only hope the world organization will follow through on the reforms Secretary General Guterres has promised.

Many, myself included, would like to see the U.N. dissolved.

The chronic issue of countries with abhorrent human rights records sitting on the Human Rights Council, the constant sanctioning of Israel while ignoring the true bad actors, as well as the seedy underbelly of immune diplomats engaging in sex slavery and drug trafficking make the effort hardly seem worth it.

The U.S. and Britain have no choice but to follow through on these threats. The U.N. and member countries need to get their act together or be disbanded once and for all.

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Suspect in Pam Gellar Beheading Plot Goes With “Fat Loser” Defense

A Massachusetts man is currently standing trial for plotting to behead anti-Islam and women’s rights activist Pamela Gellar after she sponsored a “Draw Muhammad Day” in Garland, TX in 2015. The event ended in a terrifying attack that was not that unpredictable given the past response of some Muslims to similar events and “transgressions.”

HOLD FOR STORY MOVING EARLY RISER SEPT. 20 -- FILE - In this May 7, 2015 file photo, Pamela Geller speaks during an interview at The Associated Press in New York. A trial is set to begin on Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2017 in federal court in Boston for David Wright of Everett, Mass., accused of participating in a 2015 plot for the Islamic State group is to behead Geller, a conservative blogger. The plot was never carried out. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)
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David Wright and his uncle, along with one other man are accused of plotting to behead Gellar and then carry out more attacks on police officers in the name of Islam and the Prophet Muhammed. The Daily Mail reports:

Prosecutors said Wright, his uncle, Usaamah Rahim, of Boston, and another man agreed to kill Geller in the summer of 2015 after the cartoon contest in suburban Dallas, Texas.

In May of that year, Wright met with Rahim and Nicholas Rovinski, of Warwick, Rhode Island, for more than two hours on a secluded Rhode Island beach and discussed plans to kill Geller, according to the indictment.

Days later, Rahim told Wright he couldn’t wait to attack Geller and decided instead to go after ‘those boys in blue,’ referring to police, Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephanie Siegmann told jurors Wednesday.

Wright encouraged his uncle to attack police and die a ‘martyr,’ instructing him to destroy his cellphone and wipe all the data from his computer said Siegmann.

Like any good lawyer would do, Wright’s defense team is claiming that that was all just talk and Wright didn’t reall mean any of it. He wasn’t saying all those things because he’s a radicalized Muslim terrorist, but because he’s a just a fat, lonely loser.

Wright’s lawyers told jurors at a Boston courthouse:

In 2015, David felt very, very fat, very failed, and was living in a world of fantastical ideas. He hid behind screens, looking for an escape, looking for a distraction from who he really was.

Attorney Jessica Hedges told the jury that at the time of his plan, Wright weighed more than 500 lbs, lived with his mother and found acceptance in an online community that shared his growing sense of discontent. She went on to ring the free speech bell, saying:

We can be incredibly angry at what someone reads, what someone says and what someone talks about and not convict them as a criminal for it.

We’ve heard a lot of unthinkable defenses for those who gleefully slaughter innocents in the name of Islam, but the “fat loser” defense takes the sheet cake.

The portly plotter is charged with obstruction of justice, conspiring to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization and conspiring to commit acts of terrorism transcending national boundaries. He faces life in prison if convicted.

 

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Trump’s Actions Since Taking Office Have Robert Mueller’s Team Asking Questions

Among the things being closely examined by special counsel Robert Mueller would be the post-election antics of Donald Trump.

According to a new report in the New York Times, the firing of FBI Director James Comey, national security adviser Michael Flynn, and the Oval Office meeting Trump had with two Russian officials are on his radar.

In recent weeks, Mr. Mueller’s office sent a document to the White House that detailed 13 different areas that investigators want more information about. Since then, administration lawyers have been scouring White House emails and asking officials whether they have other documents or notes that may pertain to Mr. Mueller’s requests.

One of the requests is about a meeting Mr. Trump had in May with Russian officials in the Oval Office the day after James B. Comey, the F.B.I. director, was fired. That day, Mr. Trump met with the Russian foreign minister, Sergey V. Lavrov, and the Russian ambassador to the United States, Sergey I. Kislyak, along with other Russian officials. The New York Times reportedthat in the meeting Mr. Trump had said that firing Mr. Comey relieved “great pressure” on him.

That would be the meeting where the Russian officials reportedly had a good chuckle when reporters mentioned Comey’s firing.

That’s also the meeting where Trump revealed sensitive information about the movements of an Israeli spy embedded with ISIS in Syria, potentially putting his life in danger.

There’s more.

Mueller also wants to know about Trump’s hand in crafting the (false) statement given by Donald Trump Jr., regarding the June 2016 meeting with a Kremlin-connected attorney.

Because people with nothing to hide don’t need to lie.

Ty Cobb, the lawyer Mr. Trump hired to provide materials related to the Russia investigation to the special counsel and Congress, has told Mr. Mueller’s office that he will turn over many of the documents this week.

“We can’t comment on any specific requests being made or our conversations with the special counsel,’’ he said.

But somebody is commenting, and it sounds like this is just the tip of the iceberg.

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Melania Takes on the Issue of Bullying, and the Loony Left Turns Right Around and Bullies Her

First Lady Melania Trump addressed a luncheon at the U.N. today, and she had the issue of cyberbullying on her mind. She spoke of the need for adults and online influencers to put an end to cyberbullying by setting a good example for children, saying, “We must turn our focus right now to the message and content they are exposed to on a daily basis through social media, the bullying, the experience online and in person.”

She continued, “We must teach every child the values of empathy and communication that are at the core of the kindness, mindfulness, integrity and leadership which can only be taught from example.” Something all grown-ups should be able to agree on, right?

Not so much.

As if on cue, the loony left took to Twitter and began a cyberbullying campaign against Melania. Some mocked her for the bright pink dress she wore to the speech.

Others, like this anonymous charmer who likely lives in his mother’s basement and lets the fact that he’d never stand a chance with a woman like Melania eat away at his soul, took the opportunity to call her a “porn model whore.”

Mike T belittles the First Lady as nothing more than gyrating tranny.

The First Lady, whether by choice or by necessity, has taken on an issue that plagues communities throughout the country. We read nearly every day of a child who took their life because they were bullied online; Melania’s own son, 11-year-old Barron, has been the target of online bullies. She’s a mom who feels the pain of her child being hurt by anonymous cowards, and this is something all too many American families can relate to.

Leftists have become boringly predictable. Of course they’d react to a speech about bullying by bullying the person who gave the speech. Hate is all they know.

 

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Unimaginable: Puerto Rico Is Completely Without Power (Video)

(AP Photos/Carlos Giusti)

In 2017, when much of the Western world has had electricity for almost a century, it is hard to imagine an entire population of 3.5 million suddenly out of power.

As Hurricane Maria, a category 4 storm with winds hitting 150 mph, ravages the Caribbean, the U.S. territory island of Puerto Rico is reportedly completely without power, according to officials.

Being thrown into an existence without electricity often exposes just how reliant our lives have become on utilities and devices Mother Nature can wipe out without care or recourse.

Puerto Rico had barely two weeks to start assessing the damage of Hurricane Irma, let alone begin to recover, before Maria struck.

Red Cross shelters across the island are taking in residents, many of whom have never sought shelter during a storm before.

Maria is the strongest hurricane to hit the island since 1932.

Our prayers and hearts go out to all those affected during this hurricane season.

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