Tags: Donald Trump | Iran | Trump Administration | william cohen | donald trump | passing the buck | iran deal

Ex-Defense Sec. Cohen: Trump 'Passing the Buck' on Iran Deal

(MSNBC's "Morning Joe")

By    |   Friday, 06 October 2017 10:08 AM

Former Secretary of Defense William Cohen Friday accused President Donald Trump of "passing the buck" when it comes to his eventual decision on certifying the Iran deal.

"This strikes me as another example of the president passing the buck," Cohen, who served under President Bill Clinton, told MSNBC's "Morning Joe" program. "In other words, he's done this in the past where he said he favors torture. He favors waterboarding, but he'll let the military decide what to do."

In the case with the Iran deal, Trump is saying that he does not like the deal and he never has, but he'll "let Congress decide whether they want to go forward with more or less sanctions. He's able to put the responsibility or shift the responsibility for major decisions to someone else. And so I think it's a pattern that I've seen him exercise before. I think we have to come to expect he'll do it again in other particular situations."

Cohen said that he also does not agree that the deal was good with Iran, but still, according to all reports, Iran has been complying with the deal's requirements.

The former Defense secretary also spoke about Trump's statements on North Korea, including news reports that North Korean officials are communicating with former U.S. officials.

"You can look at it both ways, that the president has so shaken Kim Jong Un and his military establishment that they're looking for people who might try to divine what the president really has in mind," said Cohen, "so I'm not sure that's an altogether bad thing as long as they're reaching out to touch base with people they feel might have insight."

Cohen said he suspects North Korea is also speaking with China, and that he is concerned about the success of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson's upcoming trip to China, considering the reports of tensions between Tillerson and Trump.

The other alternative, beyond sanctions, would involve trying to provoke North Korea into taking action to which the U.S. could respond, which would lead to "tens if not hundreds of thousands of deaths," said Cohen.

Cohen said he can only observe the administration from the outside, and it's confusing to him, so he can only imagine how the Chinese and North Koreans must feel.

"Again, that may work to our advantage by saying the North Koreans don't know what they're going to do so they might be more inclined to come to the table," said Cohen. "I don't think so."

Cohen also said, as a former Cabinet member, he finds the compliments Trump's Cabinet pays him "embarrassing to watch."

"I look at that meeting and Cabinet meeting where every official went around the circle praising the president as if he were a cult figure," said Cohen. "This worship of the office or seeking to reinforce a gratification experience by the president, I think is certainly not consistent with what I have known and come to expect from a president."

Cohen went on to say he wants Trump to act presidential.

"Can you imagine Ronald Reagan throwing paper towels into a crowd of people who had been going without food?" said Cohen. "Can you imagine President [John F.] Kennedy doing the same or President [George W.] Bush or President Clinton? If Barack Obama had thrown those towels out into the audience like that there would have been a reaction in this country which would have been overwhelmingly negative and critical. We see this taking place on a day-by-day basis."

Cohen said he also feels strongly about the NFL issue.

"The president has taken it upon himself to criticize a black athlete, Colin Kaepernick, for refusing to stand during the playing of the anthem," said Cohen. "I don't understand how you can criticize a black athlete who is protesting from the depths of his heart to say stop killing us, at the same time you allow people or praise people carrying a Nazi flag, slogans, armed with AK rifles and saying they are good people."

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Former Secretary of Defense William Cohen Friday accused President Donald Trump of "passing the buck" when it comes to his eventual decision on certifying the Iran deal.
william cohen, donald trump, passing the buck, iran deal
Friday, 06 October 2017 10:08 AM
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