President TrumpDonald John TrumpHouse Democrat slams Donald Trump Jr. for ‘serious case of amnesia’ after testimony Skier Lindsey Vonn: I don’t want to represent Trump at Olympics Poll: 4 in 10 Republicans think senior Trump advisers had improper dealings with Russia MORE on Sunday earned praise from lawmakers and former government officials for his approach to the protests taking place in Iran.
The Trump administration has taken a strong stance supporting peaceful demonstrators protesting against the government in Tehran, with Trump tweeting about it multiple times and Vice President Pence and U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki HaleyNimrata (Nikki) HaleyHaley: ‘Open question’ if US athletes will attend Olympics amid North Korea tensions Haley: Trump isn’t deciding who controls east Jerusalem Emergency UN Security Council meeting called after Trump’s Jerusalem announcement: report MORE also voicing support.
His position has bipartisan appeal, with Democrats including Trump’s former presidential opponent Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonGrassley blasts Democrats over unwillingness to probe Clinton GOP lawmakers cite new allegations of political bias in FBI Top intel Dem: Trump Jr. refused to answer questions about Trump Tower discussions with father MORE making similar statements over the last few days in support of the protesters.
“The people are finally getting wise as to how their money and wealth is being stolen and squandered on terrorism,” Trump said early Sunday. “Looks like they will not take it any longer. The USA is watching very closely for human rights violations!”
The president’s supporters are marketing Trump’s approach to Iran as a stark contrast from the Obama administration, which Trump has repeatedly criticized for being too soft on Tehran.
Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamGOP and Dems bitterly divided by immigration We are running out of time to protect Dreamers US trade deficit rises on record imports from China MORE (R-S.C.), who is considered a prominent voice within the GOP on national security and foreign policy, pointed to Trump’s support of Iranian protesters as evidence that Trump has “made good foreign policy choices.”
“He is now on the side of the Iranian people,” Graham told CBS’s “Face the Nation,” but went on to urge Trump to do more.
“But he has to do more than watch. He actually has to act. And if I were him I would withdraw from the nuclear agreement with Iran next year if it’s not made better by the Congress and our European allies,” he said.
Graham said Trump’s approach to Iran should be “the exact opposite” of former President Obama’s, arguing the Obama administration incorrectly prioritized reaching the nuclear agreement with Iran.
“Obama said, ‘I don’t want to get involved, I don’t want to mess up the chance of getting a deal with Iran,’ ” Graham said. “Well, the deal with Iran hasn’t worked. The money didn’t go to benefit the people, it went to benefit [Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei] and his henchmen.”
Rep. John GaramendiJohn Raymond GaramendiDem rep. slams Trump’s LaVar Ball attacks as racially motivated Armed Services Dem: Pentagon not forthcoming about Niger attack Rivalry on right emerges between ‘the two Marks’ MORE (D-Calif.) on Sunday also defended Obama’s administration for not being as vocal in its support for Iranian protesters in 2009, saying on CNN that the situation had to be handled differently since Iran was “quickly developing a nuclear weapon.”
Trump has frequently slammed the nuclear agreement, which was reached in 2015 between the United States, Iran and international powers in order to curb Tehran’s nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief.
The president took the extra step earlier this year to decertify the accord, a move which did not kill the deal entirely, but provided Congress with a 60-day window to reimpose sanctions. Trump did not call for Congress to reinstate nuclear sanctions on Tehran.
Republican lawmakers and foreign policy hawks have long warned that the Iranian government is a threat to regional security, and to the United States.
“Iran is a real threat to the rest of the world,” Rep. Will HurdWilliam Ballard HurdSeven Texas lawmakers leaving Congress means a younger, more diverse delegation Overnight Cybersecurity: Uber under scrutiny over 2016 breach | Chinese nationals indicted on federal hacking charges | Supreme Court to weigh cellphone privacy GOP rep: We need a ‘counter’ to Russian disinformation MORE (R-Texas), a former CIA officer, told CBS’s “Face the Nation.”
“This is something that we can get together as Republicans and Democrats, you know, and support, and work together on,” he continued. “We need to make sure that our European allies in Germany and France and England are following President Trump’s lead and showing that they support the Iranian people.”
Some Democrats have also voiced similar support for the protesters in Iran. Trump’s former opponent, Clinton, said Saturday that she hopes the Iranian government “responds peacefully and supports their hopes,” referring to the protesters.
“The Iranian people, especially the young, are protesting for the freedom and future they deserve,” said Clinton.
Several House Democrats have also implied support for the demonstrators. Both Reps. Brad ShermanBradley (Brad) James ShermanThe nearly 60 Dems who voted for impeachment Richard Gere welcomes lawmakers’ words of support for Tibet House rejects Democrat’s resolution to impeach Trump MORE (D-Calif.) and Joaquin CastroJoaquin CastroThe nearly 60 Dems who voted for impeachment House rejects Democrat’s resolution to impeach Trump Latino Dems grow frustrated with Kelly amid ‘Dreamers’ debate: report MORE (D-Texas) described the Iranian government as “oppressive” in statements.
“I am encouraged by the #Iranprotests and hope we could support those advocating for greater freedoms in Iran without our support proving counterproductive,” said Rep. Brendan Boyle (D-Pa.).
Trump on Sunday also earned approval from former Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Mike Mullen, who in the same interview was critical of the “uncertainty” caused by the rest of Trump’s foreign policy.
Mullen said Sunday that the president’s emphasis on human rights is important.
“Well, I think the focus there is incredibly important. Many of us have spoken for years about the oppression that occurs in the Middle East by many, many governments, and certainly, we have great disagreements with Iran who still supports terrorism, obviously oppresses their own people,” Mullen told ABC’s “This Week.”
“We certainly should be on guard for human rights violations. And I think we should be supportive of more freedoms in that country.”
Trump’s more staunch defenders are portraying Trump’s position as a clear case of right over wrong.
Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton, a fierce opponent of the Iran nuclear deal, commended Trump for siding with protesters.
“I think the most dramatic change has already occurred,” Bolton told Fox News’s “America’s News Headquarters.”
“You have President Trump, members of his administration, taking the side of the demonstrators,” he added. “180 degrees the opposite of what Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaPatagonia files suit against Trump cuts to Utah monuments Former Dem Tenn. gov to launch Senate bid: report Eighth Franken accuser comes forward as Dems call for resignation MORE did in 2009.”
The protests that have flared in Iran within recent days have been reminiscent of demonstrations in 2009, when former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was declared the victor over his opponent in the presidential election.
According to a CNN fact check of Obama’s remarks from 2009, the former president made a statement about the protests within several days and eventually issued a more robust statement condemning the Iranian government’s response after appeals for him to take a harder line.
“The United States and the international community have been appalled and outraged by the threats, beatings and imprisonments of the last few days,” Obama said in the later remark.
Two individuals were reportedly killed Saturday in Iran’s western city of Dorud.
Haley said in a statement on New Year’s Eve that the “long-repressed Iranian people are now finding their voice.”
“The Iranian government is being tested by its own citizens,” she said. “We pray that freedom and human rights will carry the day.”
Pence, who lambasted Obama nearly a decade ago for his initial response to those protests, said he and Trump support Iran’s “peaceful protestors.”
“The time has come for the regime in Tehran to end terrorist activities, corruption, their disregard for human rights,” Pence said Saturday.
-Updated 3:53 p.m.