Former Iranian Official, Pro-Tehran Lobbyist Hosted at Obama White House Dozens of Times

Iran backers met more than 30 times with senior Obama admin official

Barack Obama
President Barack Obama is seen the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, Friday, Jan. 20 / AP
January 23, 2017

Two high-level Iranian government backers, including a former Islamic Republic official and another accused of lobbying on Tehran's behalf, were hosted at the Obama White House for more than 30 meetings with top officials at key junctures in the former administration's contested diplomacy with Iran, according to White House visitor logs that provide a window into the former administration's outreach to leading pro-Iran advocates.

Seyed Mousavian, a former Iranian diplomat and head of its national security council, was hosted at the White House at least three times, while Trita Parsi, a pro-Iran advocate long accused of hiding his ties to the Iranian government, met with Obama administration officials some 33 times, according to recently updated visitor logs.

Sources familiar with the nature of the meetings told the Washington Free Beacon that both Parsi and Mousavian helped the White House craft its pro-Iran messaging and talking points that helped lead to the nuclear agreement with Iran. These efforts were part of a larger pro-Iran deal "echo chamber" led by senior Obama administration officials who were tasked with misleading Congress about the nature of the deal.

Mousavian, who also served as Iran's spokesperson during negotiations with the international community on the Iran deal, visited with White House National Security Council official Robert Malley, who advised the former president about the Middle East and the Islamic State terror group.

"Mousavian was Iran's ambassador to Germany back in the 1990s, when that embassy was the central node of Iran's European terror network and those in Germany were murdering dissidents in Berlin," one veteran Iran analyst who frequently works with Congress on the issue told the Free Beacon. "Later he came to the U.S., where he's being paid for with tens of thousands of dollars from the Ploughshares Fund, which funded the Ben Rhodes echo chamber."

"In his writings and speeches [Mousavian] repeats the echo chamber talking points by shilling for the Iran deal, talking up fake Iranian moderation, and spinning conspiracy theories about Israelis and Arabs," the source added. "No wonder White House officials found time for him."

Parsi, head of the National Iranian American Council, an outfit tied to the Obama White House that helped spearhead a pro-Iran narrative, met with several senior Obama administration officials during dozens of visits to the White House, the logs show.

This included private, one-on-one meetings with Obama adviser Ben Rhodes, who helmed what he described as the White House's pro-Iran deal "echo chamber," as well as meetings with Malley and Colin Kahl, national security adviser to former Vice President Joe Biden. Parsi also met with the White House NSC's director for Iran, its senior director, legislative liaisons, and public engagement officials, according to sources familiar with the nature of these meetings.

In one instance, Parsi was signed into the White House by Solomon Tarlin, a West Wing intern and supporter of the Middle East advocacy group J Street.

Parsi expressed pride in his relationship with the Obama White House, telling the Free Beacon that attacks against his organization by Republicans and opponents of diplomacy of Iran did little to harm his status with the Obama team.

"I am delighted that you are highlighting my working relationship with the Obama White House as it demonstrates how all the attacks and false accusations made against my organization utterly failed to harm our credibility in Washington," Parsi said. "Instead, we enjoyed a strong relationship with the White House that helped ensure that the Iranian nuclear crisis neither led to an Iranian bomb or war with Iran."

Michael Rubin, a former Pentagon adviser and expert on rogue regimes, told the Free Beacon that the previous administration bent over backward to host pro-Iran advocates.

"Talk about letting the fox into the hen house. Letting the head of an organization whose foreign policy positions are indistinguishable from the Islamic Republic more than 30 times would be analogous to letting the Soviet Union's chief lobbyist help guide policy during the Cold War," Rubin said.

"During the Bush administration, Parsi thought nothing of dining with [Former Iranian President] Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and his private emails, released as part of a court-ordered discovery process, show that he lied to the U.S. press and coached Iranian officials in order to weaken sanctions and promote the Islamic Republic," Rubin said.

Saeed Ghasseminejad, an associate fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and Iran expert, told the Free Beacon that the logs shed light on the close relationship between the Obama team and the pro-Iran community in the United States.

"These logs show the depth of the close relationship between pro-Tehran groups and Obama's White House," he said. "Mr. Mousavian's visit is a red flag. Mr. Mousavian, Iran's ambassador in Berlin when Iran assassinated many of its critics in Germany, is on the record talking about the necessity of having a powerful Tehran lobby in the United States and publicly admits he is doing public diplomacy to improve the Islamic regime's image."

"The fact that such figures or other pro-Tehran groups such as NIAC heavily contributed to Obama's Iran-policy shows that the new administration should radically change not only Iran-policy but also the Iran-teams in the responsible entities," Ghasseminejad wrote.

Peter Kohanloo, president of the Iranian American Majority, which opposes the hardline regime in Tehran, said that advocates such as Mousavian and Parsi played a key role in ensuring the Iran deal was inked.

"I would say the fact that the Iranian regime's top advocate had such a high level of access to the Obama White House tells you everything you need to know about how the nuclear deal was made and why President Trump rightfully called it a bad deal," Kohanloo said. "The new administration should immediately rethink its approach to the Iranian threat and discard the policies of the past."

Mousavian did not immediately respond to Free Beacon requests for comment.

Published under: Iran , Iran Nuclear Deal