WASHINGTON – US President Donald Trump’s decision to baselessly accuse his predecessor of a felony – the illegal wiretapping of Trump Tower – erodes the credibility of a new president who will need trust in times of crisis, House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence ranking member Adam Schiff said on Sunday.
Schiff, a Democrat from California and one of the “gang of eight” lawmakers who receive top intelligence briefings, expressed particular worry that Trump’s mischaracterization or fabrication of classified information might affect the Iran nuclear deal.
Under the agreement, Iran is bound to strictly limit its uranium enrichment work to declared facilities, and the entire supply chain for its nuclear program is intensively monitored by international agencies.
The US intelligence community also says it is watching their program “like a hawk” in order to catch any cheating, Trump administration officials said.
“Either the president quite deliberately, for some reason, made up this charge – or perhaps, more disturbing, the president really believes this,” Schiff told ABC’s This Week, discussing Trump’s charge on Twitter that former president Barack Obama wiretapped him during the 2016 presidential campaign.
“And here’s where I think it’s consequential,” Schiff continued. “If six months from now the president should say that Iran is cheating on the nuclear agreement, if he’s making that up, it’s a real problem. If he’s not making it up and it’s true, it’s an even bigger problem.
“The question is, would people believe him?,” he added. “Would American people believe him? Would people around the world believe him? And that has real world consequences.”
The nuclear deal is enforced by a joint commission comprised of representatives of the seven nations that were party to the 2013-2015 negotiations: The US, the UK, China, Russia, France, Germany and Iran. The UN’s nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, officially monitors and documents Iran’s nuclear work on the ground.
Any one party may trigger sanctions to snap back on Iran over its nuclear work, in whole or in part, if Tehran is found by the IAEA or third-party monitors to be in violation of the accord. As of yet, all parties to the agreement have said the deal has been fully enforced.