At today's White House press briefing, Kevin Corke of Fox News asked Press Secretary Josh Earnest: "Can you state categorically that no senior official in this administration has ever lied publicly about any aspect of the Iran nuclear deal?" The answer: "No Kevin."
Four or five seconds of silence followed. Then Earnest spent two minutes building his own catalog of lies and half-truths about the agreement, while claiming that critics of the deal are the ones who have "lied." If such an admission on such an important matter had occurred during any other administration — even previous Democratic ones — it would lead the Big Three network newscasts and would be morning show fodder for the next several days. The fact that Earnest subsequently backtracked when thrown a lifeline wouldn't change that.
In the video which follows, the quickness of Earnest's response seems to betray his readiness to say "no" when asked (though Corke, as seen later, gave him a chance to reverse himself in his follow-up question, and Earnest took it).
The remainder of Earnest's "answer" was an attempt to defend the nebulous Iran "deal" — a "agreement" which is not legally binding, and which has accomplished little or nothing in the way of substantive deterrence of Iran's attempt to become a nuclear power:
Transcript (bolds are mine, commas included where Earnest genuinely paused):
KEVIN CORKE, FOX NEWS: Can you state categorically that no senior official in this administration has ever lied publicly about any aspect of the Iran nuclear deal?
JOSH EARNEST, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: No Kevin.
Kevin, I think that, the facts of this agreement, and the benefits of this agreement, make clear, that the national security of United States of America, has been enhanced, and Iran's effort, to, acquire a nuclear weapon, has been set back. In fact, Iran has now committed, to not seeking to acquire a nuclear weapon, and we can now verify, that they are not able to acquire a nuclear weapon.
It is our critics, who either falsely, or just wrongly suggested, that Iran would never go along with the agreement. They have. They falsely or wrongly suggested that we would never be able to verify, through the international community, that Iran would abide by the agreement. They have. It is our critics, who have suggested, that Iran would experience hundreds of billions of dollars, in, benefits, a financial windfall, from this agreement. They have not. In fact, we have seen the Iran government complain about the fact, that they haven't gotten the kind of financial benefits that they expected.
So, I recognize that there is an attempt, by those who either lied or got it wrong, to try to relitigate, this fight. But the fact of the matter is, when you take a look at the concrete results of this agreement, Iran is not able to obtain a nuclear weapon. We can verify that their nuclear program is only focused on peaceful purposes, and we have succeeded, in making the United States safer, in making Israel safer, in making our partners in the region safer, because Iran is not able to obtain a nuclear weapon.
This wasn't just a priority identified by President Obama. Preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon was a priority that was identified by, Prime Minister Netanyahu, and other leaders in the Gulf that work closely with the United States to enhance our national security. That's the crux of this argument. And the facts indicate that the strategy that the President laid out, was remarkably successful.
Immediately after Earnest's answer, according to Alex Griswold at Mediate:
Corke circled back again for clarification. “I want to give another run at it, because I’m not sure if you misspoke,” he said, repeating his question.
Earnest didn’t seem to realize that he actually had misspoken and became visibly angry with Corke. “There is no evidence that ever occurred, and what I would encourage you and other critics of the deal to do is to look at the facts ...” he shot back.
If Earnest really believes that no one in the administration has ever lied about the deal, he just ended the winning streak with a stack of lies and half-truths so voluminous it would take hours to fully document them all. We have a press corps full of journalists whose job it is to do that. Odds are they won't.
But at this point, all that work, though necessary for the historical record, isn't required for concerned Americans to have a handle on the matter. All they really need to know is that former UN Ambassador John Bolton, a person who is in as good a position as almost anyone to evaluate where we are, observed two weeks ago that "the deal now puts them on a highway to nuclear weapons."
Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.