In a wide-ranging interview with the Wall Street Journal, President Donald Trump made a surprising statement about Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. The president said he was so sure that Iran was non-compliant with the regulations of the Iran Deal that he said he would override Tillerson’s staff if they said otherwise.
While the Wall Street Journal tried to keep the full transcript of their interview with the president private, it was leaked out and published by Politico Tuesday.
WSJ: You mentioned the Iran Deal, but it’s been certified as in compliance twice now. It comes up again in September. Would you – is there going to come a point where you just –
TRUMP: Well, we’re doing major studies. Oh, I would be very surprised if they will be – look, we’ve been extremely nice to them. We’ve been extremely nice to them in saying they were compliant, OK? We’ve given them the benefit of every doubt. But we’re doing very detailed studies. And personally, I have great respect for my people. If it was up to me, I would have had them non-compliant 180 days ago.
WSJ: Do you expect them to be declared non-compliant the next time?
TRUMP: Personally, I do. I do.
WSJ: In September?
TRUMP: I think they’ll be non-compliant. I think they’re taking advantage of this country. They’ve taken advantage of a president, named Barack Obama, who didn’t know what the hell he was doing. And I do not expect that they will be compliant.
WSJ: Will you overrule your staff on that, if they come back with a recommendation –
TRUMP: Oh, sure. Sure. Look, I have a lot of respect for Rex and his people, good relationship. It’s easier to say they comply. It’s a lot easier. But it’s the wrong thing. They don’t comply. And so we’ll see what happens. I mean, we’ll talk about this subject in 90 days. But, yeah, I would be – I would be surprised if they were in compliance.
It would be extraordinary for the president to contradict his own secretary of state, but even more so after the recent White House shake-up where so many staffers have been fired.
Trump has also undermined the authority of Attorney General Jeff Sessions by accusing him of precipitating the appointment of special counsel Robert Mueller because of his recusal in the Russian investigations.
Trump has called the Iran Deal negotiated by the Obama administration one of the worst deals ever made in history, and constantly promised to undo the pact. Obama considered it one of the highlights of his second term, the foreign policy accomplishment equivalent to that of his Obamacare legislation passed in his first term.
In February a report said that the “deep state” of government employees were trying to undo Trump’s authority in order to keep the Iran Deal in place.