CNN Voices Criticizing Iran Deal Pullout Outnumber Supporters 6-1

May 8, 2018

Voices critical of President Donald Trump's decision to withdraw the United States from the Iran nuclear deal outnumbered those supportive of the move by a six-to-one margin on CNN on Tuesday.

On a segment hosted by Wolf Blitzer, CNN host Christiane Amanpour said she was struck by the sight of White House National Security Adviser John Bolton standing at the door as Trump exited the room following his announcement to withdraw from the nuclear deal.

"Look, this is the regime change crew," she said. "They're back in town. They are ascendant."

Amanpour also said it was "incredibly difficult" to understand how pulling out of the agreement makes the U.S. safer.

"It is incredibly difficult to try to fathom that sitting from here," she said. "All those things that he laid out about the danger of Iran, about his regional ambitions about supporting terrorism and the like, how does pulling out of one deal that constrains—and it does, no matter what the president says—the deal constrains Iran's nuclear program, so how does pulling out of it make you safe while you are trying to deal with all the other things when you have no Plan B?"

CNN reporter Dana Bash relayed a text she received from a European diplomat calling Trump's announcement a "disaster," and CNN reporter Jim Sciutto took exception to several of Trump's statements, including the idea that Iran would want to sit down and renegotiate a new agreement.

CNN analyst Gloria Borger asked Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian whether Trump's decision was a "propaganda win" for the Iranians, and he said it was. He said he did not see a way out now for the five Americans currently being held by Iran.

"These people are going to get lost in the shuffle, unfortunately," he said.

Rezaian added there would be significant disappointment among the Iranian people at the U.S. exiting the deal and reimposing potentially crippling sanctions on Iran's economy.

Rezaian, the Post's former Tehran bureau chief, was imprisoned in horrific conditions for 18 months by Iran for unproven espionage charges starting in 2014. He was released in 2016.

Former Deputy Secretary of State Tony Blinken, who was in office during the Obama administration when the Iran deal was inked in 2015, said Trump had given a "gift to the hardliners" in Iran. It was reminiscent of remarks then-President Barack Obama made in 2015 about Republicans opposed to the agreement, saying they had "common cause" with Iranian hardliners.

"Whatever leverage we had, the president just destroyed it by blowing up international unity," Blinken said. "There is going to be profound disunity not just with the Europeans, but with the Russians, the Chinese, countries from around the world that buy oil from Iran."

Former Trump campaign strategist David Urban was the lone voice on the panel who did not express negativity about the decision, asking what European allies had done to curtail Iran's terrorist proxies.

"We waited and waited, just hoping and wishing something was going to happen. It didn't happen. I think now something will happen," Urban said.

CNN analyst David Gregory took an even-handed approach.

"One of the big challenges for the president is exactly on this point, which is why not use what coalition we have to target the bad actions, the support for terrorism, the destabilizing of the area, maybe he loses an opportunity to do that now, and that is a significant challenge," he said.

Gregory added, however, that observers should not take it as a fact that because there has been a disruption, the Europeans will not do business with the U.S.

"The Europeans do lots of things that are not on the side of the United States ... Maybe a tougher line needs to be taken with them, and maybe something else could be constructed, or maybe not," Gregory said. "I'm saying this is hard, and I think there is an establishment reaction to this saying, 'Wait a minute, he has broken some China here, and only a disaster follows.'"