Texas Senator Ted Cruz said it would be a "serious mistake" for President Donald Trump to ease sanctions against Iran to help secure a meeting with President Hassan Rouhani.
"Whether or not a meeting occurs, lifting sanctions on Iran, giving the ayatollah an economic lifeline while Iran remains the world's leading state sponsor of terrorism, would be profoundly harmful and a serious mistake," Cruz, a Texas Republican, said in an interview Wednesday at the Capitol.
Bloomberg reported Wednesday that during a meeting on Monday, Trump discussed easing sanctions in an effort to set a meeting with Rouhani, prompting then-National Security Adviser John Bolton to argue forcefully against such a step. Hours later, Trump decided to oust Bolton. The article cited three people familiar with the matter.
Cruz said that while Trump's policy on Iran has been maximum pressure, he suspects career officials at the State and Treasury departments have been working to undermine that policy and revive the Obama-era nuclear deal with Iran. Trump withdrew the U.S. from the accord.
The senator accused career officials of "doing so, cynically, hoping to wait out the Trump administration and hoping for a Democratic victory in 2020."
Cruz said the Obama deal was "catastrophically dangerous," in part because it freed up more than $100 billion for the Iranians. Cruz said Trump shouldn't go down the same road.
"That approach was foolhardy when the Obama administration embraced it, and I hope and pray that President Trump is not convinced by his staff to embrace those failed Obama policies," Cruz said.