From left, the European Union high representative, Federica Mogherini; the Iranian foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif; head of the Iranian Atomic Energy Organisation, Ali Akbar Salehi, the Russian foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov; the British foreign secretary Philip Hammond; and the US secretary of state John Kerry pose for a group picture at the United Nations building in Vienna after striking a landmark nuclear deal. Joe Klamar / Pool Photo via AP
You know when you see a story and it just doesn’t smell right? The latest anonymously sourced slap at Trump from The Daily Beast is one of those stories.
Per the Beast, Donald Trump is looking at handing Iran $15 billion in credit to help save their failing economy, which is currently our primary source of leverage over them. This is a plan the French are proposing because they’ve been trying to save Iran for their own selfish reasons for many years.
President Donald Trump has left the impression with foreign officials, members of his administration, and others involved in Iranian negotiations that he is actively considering a French plan to extend a $15 billion credit line to the Iranians if Tehran comes back into compliance with the Obama-era nuclear deal.
Trump has in recent weeks shown openness to entertaining President Emmanuel Macron’s plan, according to four sources with knowledge of Trump’s conversations with the French leader. Two of those sources said that State Department officials, including Secretary Mike Pompeo, are also open to weighing the French proposal, in which the Paris government would effectively ease the economic sanctions regime that the Trump administration has applied on Tehran for more than a year.
Donald Trump is a lot of things. If you are reading this, you probably have a pretty good gauge on which things he is and which he isn’t. Does going along with France’s Emmanuel Macron to give Iran a lifeline that would make the President look like a weak chump sound like something Trump is going to do?
Even the “sources” here are worthy of heavy skepticism. “With knowledge of Trump’s conversations” means it’s people who weren’t in the room and didn’t actually hear anything said. In other words, they are 3rd hand anonymous sources that could easily be relaying incomplete information, void of context.
Now, I want to say this. I do not think the story is simply made up. I’m sure that the administration has discussed this plan and that it was talked about at the G7. It’s even possible the President has inquired about it in various ways to gain clarity. But was he actually “actively considering it?” Was he showing “enthusiasm toward” helping Iran as the article purports further down in the body?
Trump has to know that such a move would undermine him greatly. It’s one thing to play patty cake with Kim Jong Un while not actually giving him anything. It’s another to give sanctions waivers to Iran to keep the Mullahs from collapsing. There may not be preconditions necessary for talks, but they have to be necessary for lifting sanctions. Trump knows this, he’s said this many times, and he gains nothing by giving Iran a lifeline without getting anything in return.
The Beasts article ends with this.
Whether or not the president follows through with supporting Macron is unclear, as Trump is known to consider or temporarily back high-profile domestic or foreign policy initiatives, only to quickly backtrack or about-face.
This is much closer to the probable truth. Trump is a guy who asks questions, sometimes on matters that he’s clearly not going to actually follow through on. Often, we get those conversations then leaked by “sources” that oppose the President while leaving out crucial context. That’s why they are only “familiar” with the matter. These are usually bureaucrats with a hostile outlook.
The media’s push of this angle serves two purposes for them. One, it shows Trump as weak, something they are keen to do. Two, it provides more fodder for the chaos narrative, which they are even keener to do. This story didn’t get pushed out in a vacuum at a random time. It was planted by whoever these anonymous sources are. Perhaps to push back on any chance of it happening? But also to embarrass the President.
You should be very, very skeptical that this story is giving you all the relevant facts. You should be even more skeptical that this actually happens.
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