President Obama on Friday said he was “embarrassed” for the 47 GOP senators who signed an open letter to Iran over negotiations to halt its pursuit of nuclear weapons.


“I’m embarrassed for them,” Obama said in a video posted to YouTube by VICE News Friday. "For them to address a letter to the ayatollah, who they claim is our mortal enemy, and their basic argument to them is, ‘Don’t deal with our president because you can’t trust him to follow through on an agreement,’ that’s close to unprecedented.”
The clip previews Obama’s interview with VICE founder Shane Smith, which airs Monday on HBO. The president will also discuss climate change, college affordability, marijuana legalization and political gridlock during their conversation.

Freshman Sen. Tom CottonTom Bryant CottonLoeffler isolating after possible COVID-19 infection More conservatives break with Trump over election claims Warnock hit by Republicans over 'cannot serve God and the military' comment MORE (R-Ark.) spearheaded the GOP’s efforts to inject Congress into negotiations with Tehran. The controversial message was sent Monday to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader.

Khamenei blasted the letter on Thursday, calling it proof of U.S. “deceit” and “backstabbing."

At issue is whether or not a deal between the Obama administration and Tehran will remain binding. The GOP’s letter vows Congress will void any agreement it finds unsatisfactory upon review.

The communication has drawn harsh criticism from Democrats. Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) on Wednesday called it “reckless” and “hyperpartisan.” Secretary of State John KerryJohn Forbes KerryOvernight Energy: Biden names John Kerry as 'climate czar' | GM reverses on Trump, exits suit challenging California's tougher emissions standards | United Nations agency says greenhouse gas emissions accumulating despite lockdown decline Biden moves forward as GOP breaks with Trump rise Central Asia is changing: the Biden administration should pay close attention MORE, meanwhile, said it was “irresponsible” and “flat wrong.”

Cotton refused to back down over his decision on Wednesday. He said the letter’s ultimate goal was preventing a dangerous and nuclear Iran.

“They’ve been killing Americans for years, they’ve killed hundreds of troops in Iran, now they control five capitols in the Middle East,” Cotton said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” “They are nothing but hard-liners in Iran and if they do all those things without a nuclear weapon, imagine what they would do with one.”

The U.S. is hoping Iran will slow or stop producing nuclear materials in exchange for lifting sanctions. It is partnering with Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia for discussions with Tehran.

The Obama administration is racing to outline a tentative deal by March 24, a self-imposed deadline. It is targeting June 30 for a final agreement.