Democratic congressional leaders held a press conference on Tuesday in which they sided with Iran in an increasingly tense standoff that has pitted the hardline Islamic regime against the Trump administration as it seeks to thwart Tehran's regional terror operations.
Sen. Richard Durbin (D., Ill.) and other top Democrats lashed out at the Trump administration over its efforts to isolate the Iranian regime, claiming in talking points that mirror those from Iranian leadership that President Donald Trump and his national security team are "itching for a confrontation with Iran."
The Democrats, who have sought to obstruct the administration since it pulled out of the the Obama administration's signature foreign policy achievement, the Iran nuclear deal, have sought to stake out a foreign policy that sides with Tehran in the ongoing dispute, which has seen the Islamic Republic sponsor a series of terror attacks in the Middle East, including against American military assets.
"Make no mistake, this president and his administration are itching for a confrontation with Iran," Durbin said, repeating talking points issued by Iran in recent weeks claiming that Trump is seeking another Iraq war.
"Look at what they've done: Walked away from the agreement we had with allies, unlikely allies, all around the world to stop the development of nuclear weapons in Iran," Durbin said. "President Trump walked away. Then he declared the Iran guard as a terrorist organization, then he increased the sanctions on that country and then they leaked to the press they have a plan to form an invasionary force of 120,000 American military."
Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps, or IRGC, was recently designated as a foreign terrorist organization by the Trump administration, the first ever designation of an entire foreign military. The IRGC routinely conducts terror operations outside of Iran's borders and has been instrumental in arming regional terror groups such as Hamas and Hezbollah.
"I can tell you this senator and many like me are going to resist any effort to engage the United States in another war in the Middle East," Durbin said. "The Constitution says that the Senate has the responsibility to make the decision when it comes to decisions to go to war, along with the House of Representatives. If this president thinks he can engage in another war in the Middle East without resistance from Congress he is wrong."
Senior Republican officials involved in the Iran debate dismissed Durbin's remarks as part of a campaign by Democratic leaders to coddle Iran and reenter the nuclear agreement that gave Tehran billions in cash windfalls that have since been spent on sophisticated military equipment and terror operations, such as the IRGC's involvement in the Syrian conflict.
"Democrats are becoming the party of Iran," said one senior congressional source. "They're echoing talking points against President Trump that they're getting from Iran's Foreign Minister Zarif. They're saying we're the ones provoking Iran because we labeled the IRGC a terrorist organization for killing hundreds of Americans. Iran has been attacking America for 40 years and Democrats are blaming America for it."
A second veteran GOP foreign policy hand said the Democratic Party is courting Iran as it seeks to obstruct the Trump administration on priorities both foreign and domestic.
"Do Democrats really want to run a national election aligning with the world's leading state sponsor of terrorism in threatening to kill Americans, wipe Israel off the map, and extort the world with nuclear threats?" asked the source, who would only discuss the matter on background. "Democrats shouldn't side with radical mullahs when they threaten to murder Americans."