CBS: ‘The Iranians Want a Democrat in the White House in 2021'

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CBS offered a double take moment on Thursday as contributor Michael Morell concluded that the “the Iranians want a Democrat in the White House in 2021.” This Morning hosts Tony Dokoupil and Jericka Duncan  wondered about the “cycle of violence” and whether “President Trump is vulnerable when you look at him facing impeachment and an election?” 

To that question, Morell, the former deputy CIA Director,  dismissed this political take, insisting, “I think the Iranians are going to continue putting the pressure on us no matter what, no matter impeachment, no matter election. I think, interestingly, the Iranians and the North Koreans want two different things here.” He added, “The Iranians want a Democrat in the White House in 2021. The North Koreans want President Trump there.” 

 

 

The comment that Iran “wants a Democrat in the White House” certainly grabbed Dokoupil’s attention. He circled back at the end of the segment for clarification: “If I read you correctly, the Democrats might be favored by Iran because a Democrat might reenter that nuclear agreement?” 

Earlier, Dokoupil dismissed the actions by the U.S. and the Iranian response as a “cycle of violence”: 

At present, far from leaving, more U.S. troops are actually entering the region. So, as we see the cycle of violence between the U.S. And Iranian-backed factions, where could this take us? What's next?

A transcript of the segment is below: 

CBS This Morning
1/2/20
7:07AM ET 

ANTHONY MASON: CBS News senior contributor and former acting and deputy CIA Director Michael Morrell joins us. Michael, happy New Near. Thanks for being here. You heard Ian Lee pose the question is this the beginning of the end of U.S. military presence in Iraq? How bad is this situation? 

MICHAEL MORELL (CBS News senior security contributor): So the attack on the embassy was bad. But now this has moved to the Iraqi parliament where it could be even worse. 

MASON: Worse how? 

MORELL: Because there's going to be a debate in the Iraqi parliament about whether the U.S. military should go home or not. That was the deal to get the protesters to withdraw. So it's possible that the Iraqi parliament could vote in favor of the U.S. leaving which would put intense pressure on us. Why does that matter? It matters because we are still fighting ISIS in Iraq. And it would be akin to the U.S. pulling out in 2011, which gave Al Qaeda in Iraq which ultimately became ISIS a big boost. So we could see that whole thing play out again. 

TONY DOKOUPIL: At present, far from leaving, more U.S. troops are actually entering the region. So, as we see the cycle of violence between the U.S. And Iranian-backed factions, where could this take us? What's next? 

MORELL: So it could take us one place, right, which is the withdrawal from Iraq which would be bad. The other place it could take us is an escalatory spiral with the Iranians that could lead to war. This was an attack by Iranian proxies on the U.S., which resulted in the death of an American. We responded to that. Not in the smartest way. But we responded to that. If the Iranians —  the Iranians are going to continue this, they're going to continue to put pressure on us. If we respond in a way that starts a spiral, we could lead to war. 

DOKOUPIL: The tweets are pretty concerning. The president says Iran's going to be held responsible, calls it a threat. Then Iran's Supreme Leader says, basically, “I dare you, you can't do anything.”  

MORELL: So at the end of the day, the Iranians wanted us to respond the way we did. They wanted us to attack those targets in Iraq because they knew what the response would be which would be an Iraqi protest against the embassy, and the Iraqi government allowing it to happen. The mistake we made here was doing the followup attacks in Iraq rather than just in Syria. 

JERICKA DUNCAN: To our adversaries, does it appear that President Trump is vulnerable right now when you look at him facing impeachment and an election? 

MORELL: I think the Iranians are going to continue putting the pressure on us no matter what, no matter impeachment, no matter election. I think, interestingly, the Iranians and the North Koreans want two different things here. Right? The Iranians want a Democrat in the White House in 2021. The North Koreans want President Trump there. It's a very interesting difference. 

MASON: Quickly, what does the U.S. Do at this point? What's the smartest thing to defuse this? 

MORELL: The smartest thing we can do is get Secretary Pompeo to Baghdad to sit down with the Iraqi government and essentially apologize for conducting attacks in Iraq without their permission and try to make sure that that vote in the Iraqi parliament either doesn't happen or comes out the right way. 

DOKOUPIL: If I read you correctly, the Democrats might be favored by Iran because a Democrat might reenter that nuclear agreement. 

MORELL: Exactly. 

DOKOUPIL: All right. Thank you so much. We appreciate it. 

 

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