Dem ex-lawmakers defend Schumer on Iran

A group of Democratic former lawmakers is rallying around Sen. Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerTrump, GOP regain edge in Kavanaugh battle READ: President Trump’s exclusive interview with Hill.TV The Hill's 12:30 Report — Trump slams Sessions in exclusive Hill.TV interview | Kavanaugh accuser wants FBI investigation MORE (D-N.Y.), after his decision to oppose the Iran nuclear deal brought swift blowback from liberals. 

“As friends and former colleagues of Chuck’s, we are certain he reached this difficult decision as he always does — by applying his considerable intellect to a complete and careful interrogation of the facts. Any insinuation that his decision was somehow other than thoughtful and heartfelt is baseless — and tasteless," Democratic former Sens. Evan Bayh (Ind.), Mark BegichMark Peter BegichElection Countdown: Trump plans ambitious travel schedule for midterms | Republicans blast strategy for keeping House | Poll shows Menendez race tightening | Cook Report shifts Duncan Hunter's seat after indictment The Hill's Morning Report — Trump’s legal jeopardy mounts after Manafort, Cohen felony counts Dunleavy, Begich win party nods in 3-way race for Alaska governor MORE (Alaska), Mary LandrieuMary Loretta LandrieuLobbying world Former New Orleans mayor: It's not my 'intention' to run for president Dems grasp for way to stop Trump's Supreme Court pick MORE (La.) and Joe Lieberman (Conn.), as well as former Reps. Gary Ackerman (N.Y.), Shelley Berkley (Nev.), Dennis Cardoza (Calif.) and Peter Deutsch (Fla.), said in a statement. 

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The lawmakers represent the advisory board of the Citizens for a Nuclear Free Iran, which opposes the deal and is tied to the The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). 

The former lawmakers added that "reasonable people can — and do — differ on the merits of this agreement. Any suggestion to the contrary is indefensible." 

The New York Democrat has been in liberals' crosshairs since he announced earlier this month that he would vote against the Iran nuclear deal. He's pressing the administration to go back to the negotiating table and get a better one.  

Progressive outside groups including CREDO, MoveOn.org and Democracy for America are rallying their supporters to buck Schumer and demand lawmakers support the agreement. 

Becky Bond, the political director of CREDO Action, said the decision "shows that he is unfit to lead Senate Democrats." 

MoveOn.org said earlier this week that its supporters had pledged to withhold a total of $11 million from Democratic candidates and campaign groups in response.

Schumer's also drawn direct and veiled criticisms from current and former administration officials. David Plouffe, a former top Obama adviser, called Schumer's belief that the administration could go back and get a better deal naive. 

The New York lawmaker is the only Democratic senator, so far, to buck President Obama on the Iran nuclear deal, despite an intense lobbying effort by the administration. The president will need 34 senators to back the agreement if he wants to block a potential veto override in the Senate.