Defense Secretary Jim Mattis has publicly veered away from President Trump. On Tuesday Mattis expressed vehement support for the much-maligned Iran Nuclear Deal.
“Do you believe it’s in our national security interest at the present time to remain in the JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action)?” Sen. Angus King asked.
Mattis didn’t hesitate. “Yes, Senator, I do,” he replied.
The Iran Deal, or JCPOA, is one the most controversial pieces of legislation in modern history. The Trump campaign repeatedly lashed at the deal during the election, and the criticisms didn’t stop once he was in the White House.
“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,” Trump told the United Nations last month.
Mattis’ full-throated support puts him at odds with the president. Trump has confirmed to Congress multiple times that Iran is complying with the deal. If the U.S. imposes sanctions without first demonstrating misbehavior on Iran’s part, it could be a foreign relations disaster.
Disentangling ourselves from the agreement will be tricky.