Lake writes, “A month after President Barack Obama’s historic 2013 phone call to Iran’s new president, Hassan Rouhani, his former secretary of state privately warned that the so-called moderate only won the election because Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and Revolutionary Guard Corps allowed it.”
Wikileaks made public a speech transcript of Hillary Clinton, on October 28, 2013, allegedly telling the Jewish United Fund of Metropolitan Chicago: “I believe that Rouhani was allowed to be elected by the two major power sources in Iran, the supreme leader and the clerics and the Revolutionary Guard … in part because the sanctions were having a quite damaging effect on the economy.”
According to Wikileaks, she continued: “I don’t think anyone should have any illusions as to the motives of the Iranian leadership. What they really want to do is get sanction relief and give as little as possible for that sanction relief.”Lake believes that Clinton is skeptical about Rouhani, and that this is a split from the Obama administration’s portrayal of the Iranian president as a moderate, as opposed to the regime’s hardline elements. The Obama administration went so far as to, in 2015, oppose a congressional proposal to increase visa scrutiny of those visiting the U.S., who had also visited Iran, saying that the measure would weaken moderate forces there.
Obama believes in the promise of Iranian reform under Rouhani. In an interview with NPR in April 2015, he said, “I think that, if in fact the Rouhani administration — the forces that are more moderating, even if, let’s acknowledge, that they don’t share our values and they still consider us an enemy — if they are shown to have delivered for their people, presumably it strengthens their hand vis-a-vis some of the hardliners inside of Iran.”
Clinton, according to Wikileaks, at least, has taken a more realistic view since leaving the administration. In the transcript of her Chicago speech, she allegedly called Rouhani’s outreach to the West a “charm offensive,” and argued that “U.S. negotiations were important as a sign of good faith to the international community, but not as a way to influence Iranian internal politics.”
This election year, the Republicans seized on Clinton’s support for Obama’s nuclear deal. It’s true that Clinton defends the deal.
But, according to newly leaked e-mails, her campaign has been attentive to concerns over the deal. Lake says, “… starting with Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu. For example, e-mail exchanges between Stuart Eizenstat, a senior State Department official under President Bill Clinton, and Hillary Clinton’s top national security aide, Jake Sullivan, show how the campaign sought and incorporated suggestions on her Iran deal statement from the pro-Israel and Jewish community.”
Lake quotes a leaked December 2015 e-mail from Eizenstat to Sullivan concerns a message from a senior aide to Netanyahu: “Eizenstat says the Israeli official told him: The prime minister always had a ‘surprising good relationship’ with Hillary; she is ‘easy to work with,’ and that she is more instinctively sympathetic to Israel than the White House.” President Obama fought with Netanyahu and pro-Israel organizations in the summer of 2015 over the Iran deal.
Lake continues, “Clinton’s skepticism of Rouhani is in line with other criticisms of Obama’s foreign policy she shared in her behind-closed-doors speeches. For example, at an October 2013 speech at the Goldman Sachs Builders and Innovators Summit, she was critical of Obama’s decision to walk away from his ‘red line’ on the Syrian regime’s use of chemical weapons.” She allegedly said, “You can’t squander your reputation and your leadership capital. You have to do what you say you’re going to do. You have to be smart about executing on your strategies. And you’ve got to be careful not to send the wrong message to others, such as Iran.”
“All of this would have been trouble for Clinton had these speeches been released during the Democratic Party’s primaries when her dovish opponent, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, asked her to release the transcripts. Sanders supporters could also have made hay of transcripts of talks to major banks showing Clinton supported trade deals she criticized during the primary. But WikiLeaks held onto these transcripts until just weeks before Americans will vote for their president. Candidates usually try to tack to the center for the general election. In this strange political season, WikiLeaks has performed this pivot for her,” Lake concludes.