FOLLOWING MONEY IN 2016 PRESIDENTIAL POLITICS

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

WATCH: Sen. Flake On Charlie Rose, Re: Iran Nuclear Deal and Trump's Border Policy ("Insensitive to Laughable")

Arizona Senator Jeff Flake sat for his first PBS interview with Charlie Rose late last month, and discussed the nuclear deal with Iran, Donald Trump's frontrunner status in the GOP Presidential race, and other issues.

While you cannot rely too much on the closed captioning transcript (below the jump), you can get an idea of the parts you want to play.  At the top, he describes what made his decision to oppose the agreement with Iran most difficult:

"The part that troubled me most is that this probably should have been a treaty where
0:55
it binds all parties. Instead it's an executive agreement that just lasts, you
1:00
know, the length of the presidency, and when there are other issues like
1:05
problems with one Iran has been doing in the region some of the terrorist
1:09
activity then I thought that the agreement unfairly restricts Congress's
1:15
ability to respond to that kind of behavior and so that's what tipped the
1:19
scales for me. It was, i mean for those who say this was an easy call, I think
1:24
they haven't looked closely at it or at the alternatives, so you never want to be
1:28
on the other side of nearly all of your allies and we are but this is a tough
1:34
agreement.

His comments about Trump are clear and to the point: 

"
19:55
by that time hopefully some of these statements and and these policies
20:02
if you want to call them that from Mr Trump will be a faint memory because
20:06
certainly it's not a serious policy to talk about building a wall and forcing
20:12
the Mexican government to pay for it or imposing fees and terrorists like she
20:19
has talked about doing it just you know it borders
20:22
well it it runs from you know insensitive to laughable frankly some of
20:30
these policies that have been advocated by mr. Trump


(Transcript - from YouTube - is below the jump)

We welcome your comments about this post. Or, if you have something unrelated on your mind, please e-mail to info-at-arizonaspolitics-dot-com or call 602-799-7025. Thanks.
0:00
jeff Flake is here is the junior republican senator from Arizona on
0:03
Friday attended the ceremonial reopening of the USA embassy in a manner
0:07
alongside Secretary of State John Kerry he has been an outspoken advocate for
0:12
restoring ties between the two countries but on Saturday he announced his
0:16
opposition to the president
0:18
Iran nuclear accord he joins me now from Phoenix Arizona we're pleased to have
0:23
him on this broadcast for the first time what in the end made the difference for
0:27
you with regard to Iran yes you know the nuclear side I think was pretty tight
0:35
particularly with the known nuclear facilities in Iran and the inspection
0:38
regime and it does truly limit Iran's ability to at least amass enough fissile
0:44
material to make a bomb for ten to fifteen years and that's a good thing
0:49
apart the troubled me most is that this probably should have been a treaty where
0:55
it binds all parties instead it's an executive agreement that just last you
1:00
know the length of the presidency and when there are other issues like
1:05
problems with one Iran has been doing in the region some of the terrorist
1:09
activity than I thought that the agreement unfairly restricts congress's
1:15
ability to respond to that kind of behavior and so that's what tip the
1:19
scales for me it was a i mean for those who say this was an easy call I think
1:24
they haven't looked closely at it or at the alternatives so you never want to be
1:28
on the other side of nearly all of your allies and we are but this is a tough
1:34
agreement we r
1:35
opposes deal where and what what do you mean by on the opposite of our allies
1:39
obviously depends on which allows you talking about
1:42
well as the P 5+1 negotiated this agreement so our european allies have
1:47
been with us on the sanctions regime you know will now go on
1:52
assuming that this agreement were to fall apart I think that they would might
1:57
go a different direction and that's that's not a good thing to to break up
2:01
this this could coalition part of the success I think we've had in bringing
2:05
Iran to the table as it's been around versus the West rather than Iran vs the
2:10
us- and and this kind of brake setup and so it's it's not an easy thing to do you
2:15
go against your european allies on the other hand israel has some real concerns
2:20
here some genuine legitimate concerns about this agreement and they're
2:25
obviously a very close ally of ours as well there is a lot of political
2:29
personal side but in the end you think people and and the ballast senators date
2:34
you know well from that one hundred are voting today about this on the merits of
2:41
this treaty on marriage of this Agreement or on political pressure well
2:48
I like to think that that all of us look at the facts and the merits of the case
2:53
and I think by and large thats true we've had a good number of hearings and
2:57
briefings and meetings that have been widely attended by my colleagues and so
3:03
i i think that they the senate I can't speak for the house but knowing what
3:08
we've gone through in the senate people are taking this very seriously as they
3:11
should
3:12
this is a big important agreement and I thought it was important to do due
3:15
diligence on it and I've tried to do so why is it important
3:19
well this is this is going to affect not just our relationship with the ran but
3:24
the entire region and this this
3:28
allowing or trying to prohibit a nation like Iran from getting a nuclear weapon
3:34
is extremely important it's something that we've faced a a good chunk of our
3:39
foreign policy in the Middle East on for quite a while and it will affect
3:43
obviously the region and we've got to establish a regional security framework
3:49
in the wake of this record now assuming it goes through those kind of things are
3:55
big and important do you believe that the president could have negotiated
3:59
better and secretary Kerry and the Secretary of Energy and others that were
4:05
part of the USA team that they could have negotiated better and perhaps
4:09
include some of these elements that concern you about Iranian conduct in New
4:15
yes I do I think it had this been a tree they obviously were clarified some of
4:21
these things that many of us have been raising for a number of months I
4:25
actually wrote to the president in February of this year
4:28
expressing concern that congress hasn't been involved particularly and what will
4:33
happen with sanctions should this Agreement go into a fact and I i do
4:40
think that we could have clarified with with a treaty you can do what it calls
4:44
rides a reservations understandings and declarations where you clarify some of
4:51
the confusing aspects of a treaty we didn't have that opportunity here and so
4:56
I encourage the administration to at least supports and parallel legislation
5:00
that might clarify some of these items and and they just aren't clear the
5:05
administration will say that we do maintain retain all the tools that we
5:10
have to deter punish Iran for behavior in the region on the non-nuclear side
5:15
right but if you read the agreement
5:18
that's just not the case and so I think that those things needed to be clarified
5:22
they aren't and I think they'll present a big problem going forward you think
5:26
the president wants his deal to me too much
5:28
well i i don't want to say that I know that the agree with the administration
5:33
wants an agreement I want an agreement I supported the negotiations all along and
5:38
I wanted to support a good agreement I wanted to be there I don't think it's a
5:42
good thing to have big important agreement like this just passed with a
5:47
bare plurality of partisan votes and so I would have liked to have been there
5:52
but but I just couldn't get over these hurdles in supporting the president how
5:58
do you think it's going to come out in the end if I had to guess I would think
6:04
that the president may lose a few more democrats have already declared that
6:09
have already declared but in the end will have votes to sustain a veto so
6:15
he'll be able to get this agreement that he very much I I believe so I believe
6:20
the votes will be there what do you think he doesn't understand well have
6:24
put it that way I think certainly these negotiations have been entered into in
6:31
good faith and I think we're trying to get an agreement that will both restrict
6:37
Iran's nuclear ambitions but also got to deal with the behavior in the region
6:44
the president
6:46
believes that we can separate those things and and I'm not sure that we can
6:51
in fact I think in the agreement the fact that Iran has agreed on the nuclear
6:56
side to something that that it can get out of if we impose sanctions for other
7:02
behavior ties the two non-nuclear and nuclear aspects together in ways that
7:08
I'm not sure is fully appreciated by the administration as you well know the
7:13
present will I get that two things one who argued that it was a non-starter it
7:18
was a non-starter to to include these things as part of an agreement they
7:24
weren't simply were not gonna go there and that the intent of the Peapod plus
7:28
one was only to use sanctions to get an agreement to prevent Iran from having a
7:35
nuclear weapon simply disagree I don't want to disparage the president of the
7:42
administration like I said I've plotted their efforts and their their
7:46
willingness to negotiate think we should have been doing this long before that I
7:51
think we we have a stronger hand than we've shown and so i i think that we
7:57
could have gotten some more commitments or at least not found congress's hands
8:04
with regard to responding to Iran's behavior in the region I think that we
8:09
could have clarified that and that would have provided more deterrence than is
8:14
currently
8:15
there with this agreement also the president argued that it's much better
8:19
to have the in competition and and to be engaged in a conflict with Iran that
8:26
does not have a nuclear weapon about these issues whether it's a support
8:30
there's bolo whether it's the denunciation of Israel and all of that
8:35
to be engaged with Iran it does not have a nuclear weapon than one that does not
8:41
there's certainly something to be said for that but I but I'm not sure that you
8:45
can take that to the full extent if Iran believes that we are so worried that
8:52
they will get out of their nuclear obligations that that we won't challenge
8:57
them on some of the regional behavior they simply have far too much leverage
9:01
in that regard and I i think that there's some of that in this agreement
9:06
so i i take the president's point on dealing with Iran without nuclear
9:10
capability that's certainly better but if they can use that as leverage to
9:16
increase bad behavior in the region then I'm not sure that argument holds do you
9:23
believe there are things that the congress can do now that even though the
9:28
agreement will go into effect can make a difference
9:33
yes I think congress will and that's part of what I was talking to the
9:37
administration about as late as last Friday I think the congress is going to
9:42
move ahead and for example to reauthorize the Iran sanctions act which
9:47
expires next year simply so if there is
9:51
need a need for a snap-back we have sanctions to snap back to and that has
9:59
been met with resistance by the administration they say you know we can
10:03
deal with that when it comes up but it would be too provocative to do that now
10:07
and that's what makes me and others concerned that the administration will
10:13
be simply unwilling to challenge Iran's behavior in the region when it comes to
10:18
it if we're that afraid to challenge their interpretation of the agreement
10:23
now and and to be to allow Congress to move ahead and and reauthorize sanctions
10:29
without challenging the president's waiver authorities nobody's disagreeing
10:33
with that but to say if Iran behaved in ways that or if they violate even on the
10:40
nuclear side we want sanctions to snap back to I think that the congress will
10:46
move forward on some items like that and it may be uncomfortable for the
10:51
administration and certainly for the Iranians who have already said that they
10:55
would consider that provocative behavior but it but it it should be done many
11:01
people who support the agreement will will say I don't think it's a perfect
11:04
deal by any means and I think I don't think I met anybody who's this is a
11:08
perfect deal but they do believe you know that in the end at this will be a
11:12
more important element of preventing Iran from nuclear weapon than anything
11:16
else that on the table or off the table having said that when you look at the
11:23
dangers of Iran getting a nuclear weapon under living under the disagreement is
11:31
it the covert possibility that concerns you the most of what they might do now I
11:37
like I said I i think that the nuclear side
11:41
you know it's not perfect obviously the inspections regime as it pertains to the
11:46
non known nuclear sides of the suspected sides is certainly far from ideal but I
11:54
think what you know given our our knowledge in what we know about the
12:01
supply chain and the points at which we can intervene and and look at what's
12:05
going on I think frankly on the nuclear side it's although there are tradeoffs
12:11
like ours is not a perfect agreement there but that I was willing to go for
12:14
that part of it and I i think frankly that Iran has little incentive to cheat
12:22
big on the nuclear side if you look at it they've been a threshold nuclear
12:26
state for a while right and and they simply haven't gone there because they
12:30
have engaged I think appropriately the reaction whether it's a military
12:35
response or increased sanctions so i i i wouldn't expect Iran to try to break out
12:42
partly because the position they'll be in you know ten fifteen years from now
12:47
you know they haven't lost my age in fact they can conduct quite a bit of
12:53
research in the meantime and in some ways industrialized their program so I i
12:59
don't i don't think it's in their interest and I think they they don't
13:02
believe it is either too to break out that I got I am concerned and that's why
13:07
I ultimately couldn't support the agreement at you know the the
13:11
non-nuclear side and and I'm license it might give them to to behave differently
13:16
there and and what do you think might restrict their behavior beyond this
13:25
nuclear deal what are the elements that you would like to see in American
13:29
foreign policy to restrict these activities whether its support of
13:33
hezbollah and using hezbollah as an agent in Syria or whatever it might be
13:38
what are the tools in American foreign policy that can change that behavior
13:46
well obviously a real threat that that is known and under
13:53
and believed and I believe that that is a problem right now I'm not sure after
13:58
the Syria issue in the red line there that that are threats are believed as
14:04
much as they should be
14:06
master Dennis Ross wrote a couple of good pieces where he talked about a
14:09
couple of items that he suggested that that we could do just simply on their
14:13
deterrence side to ensure on that any move on the nuclear side to enrich
14:19
uranium beyond what's needed for peaceful purposes would be met
14:24
immediately with a strike no questions asked those kind of things that we could
14:30
do hopefully that would be believed would help on the non-nuclear side on
14:35
the non-nuclear side I think Iran needs to understand that it is our
14:41
understanding is congress and we will move ahead to impose sanctions tough
14:48
sanctions even if they're the same type of sanctions or the same sanctions
14:52
imposed on the nuclear side if they break out on the non-nuclear side and
14:58
increase their support for terrorism in the region they need to understand that
15:05
and that's as I mentioned that's part of my problem with this agreement I think
15:08
that they believe that they have neutered our ability to impose sanctions
15:14
on them tough sanctions like financial sanctions on their the central bank
15:20
should they misbehave on the non-nuclear side so we congress needs to make clear
15:25
that we will come hard even if it's the same sanctions right turn to cuba what
15:31
do you say to your fellow Senator Marco Rubio about the re-establishment of
15:37
relationships with cuba I think this represents the ultimate policy for today
15:43
and tomorrow not yesterday I i think that this is long overdue obviously my
15:50
concern over the years has been the travel ban more than anything else as an
15:54
American I should be able to travel wherever
15:56
want unless there's a compelling national security reason otherwise and
16:00
and to restrict american's ability to travel is just wrong
16:05
some people do this kind of as a concession to the cuban regime it's not
16:10
a concession to allow your own citizens to travel and it's not a concession to
16:16
have diplomatic relations at an agreement between two countries to speak
16:20
and and and work things out with diplomacy so that that's not a
16:26
concession either so this was a great moves I think it's good for cubans and
16:30
certainly good for americans as well
16:31
to where you stand on the embargo I would lift the whole thing as I said
16:37
before we ought to tell the cuban regime that we're we're lifting elements of the
16:43
travel ban were established diplomatic relations and unless you clean up on the
16:47
human right side we're gonna lift the embargo I've never seen that as a
16:52
concession either not guarantee better behavior on the government side but
17:00
we're more likely to get it if we have diplomatic relations into there's
17:05
increased commerce in contact and travel from americans are you suggesting to
17:10
make sure I understand you that the day date dear they fear the lifting of the
17:15
embargo because of what impact in my home phone changing the behavior that
17:19
might mean change in cuba no doubt that this this policy on the embargo or the
17:26
blockade as a call that is being used as a scapegoat for the failures of
17:30
socialism for decades now and so although they they say they want it
17:35
to be lifted it's a whenever we make moves in that direction we usually see
17:43
behavior on the cuban government side that that makes a step back and it
17:48
shouldn't it should make his move forward more quickly and so I am i
17:54
applaud the Obama administration for moving forward on this it's the right
17:58
thing to do it is already making lives better on the Cuban side particularly
18:04
when the president lifted restrictions on cuban-americans travel in 2009
18:10
you know it went from a hundred thousand or so visits a year to about 400,000
18:15
within a year and also money has been invested with family members in Cuba
18:20
family members in Cuba have been able to lead better richer lives and the number
18:28
of people in cuba there working outside of the state environment with private
18:33
businesses has increased substantially and and that's a good thing it spells
18:38
you know spells spells relief for a lot of people and it also I think spells
18:43
trouble for the government if they want to continue socialist government going
18:49
ahead with respect to the future of the relationship do you think that when the
18:54
Castro brothers leave the scene there you'll see democracy in cuba I don't
19:00
think it'll be immediate but I but I do think it will accelerate and a lot of
19:07
that depends on how much we open it up and how much we continue to push and
19:12
allow activity between Cubans and Americans to go forward and develop that
19:19
I i do think it will accelerate but it's not going to be a median man just turned
19:23
immigration for a moment what's happening in your party with respect
19:27
immigration because of the presence and her recommendations of Donald Trump
19:34
where we're a good you know you're out from serious political activity
19:39
well-timed a year out but for a ways out
19:42
gratefully Hampshire and still we still got a while until you know they had
19:49
actually thought in those caucuses in those primaries but i i i think that you
19:55
know by that time hopefully some of these statements and and these policies
20:02
if you want to call them dad from Mr Trump will be a faint memory because
20:06
certainly it's not a serious policy to talk about building a wall and forcing
20:12
the Mexican government to pay for it or imposing fees and terrorists like she
20:19
has talked about doing it just you know it borders
20:22
well it it runs from you know insensitive to laughable frankly some of
20:30
these policies that have been advocated by mr. Trump NY is a leading the polls
20:34
well I when you have so many candidates you can you can still have thought you
20:41
know twenty percent you've got a majority of those are a plurality and
20:45
that will no longer be the case as the field narrows and as people start really
20:51
thinking we don't just need to think about a primary but we need to think
20:55
about winning a general as well and nobody can talk seriously about winning
21:00
a national election when you use rhetoric like mr. Trump is using and I i
21:06
think the broader electorate on the republican side understands out and as
21:11
we get into next year it'll be a more serious debate could you support
21:15
donald trump that he was a republican nominee I will support the republican
21:19
nominee and I i don't think it will be mr. Trump senator to pleasure to have
21:24
you on the program thanks for having me on
21:26
we'll be right back