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Senate Republicans are targeting a top White House aide, saying his recent comments show how the administration deceived its way to a win on the Iran nuclear deal.
"Mr. [Ben] Rhodes, who is supposed to be the White House’s foreign policy communications guru, shockingly explained the administration’s bald manipulation of the media and public opinion to build support for the Iran nuclear agreement," Sen. Dan CoatsDaniel (Dan) Ray CoatsOvernight Hillicon Valley — Scrutiny over Instagram's impact on teens Former national security officials warn antitrust bills could help China in tech race Cyber preparedness could save America's 'unsinkable aircraft carrier' MORE (R-Ind.) said in a statement Tuesday.
He added that the "fact of manipulation" was unsurprising and Rhodes’s remarks prove that the driving force behind the nuclear talks was to "secure a legacy" for President Obama.
The White House has gone into damage control after a New York Times Magazine profile triggered fierce backlash across Washington.
In the profile, Rhodes — Obama's deputy national security adviser — said he "created an echo chamber" of supportive outside groups and experts to help sell the deal.
His remarks have given opponents of the agreement fresh ammunition as they hammer Obama's foreign policy and push to renew sanctions legislation against Iran.
White House press secretary Josh Earnest hit back at criticism Monday, saying no administration official ever lied to sell the Iran deal.
Rhodes added in a separate Medium post on Sunday night that the point of the administration's public relations campaign was to "push out facts."
But their comments have done little to temper rhetorical barbs from GOP lawmakers.
Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) said the "horrific story should be a screaming siren" and boiled down to whether "we take truth seriously."
"Truth is bigger than talking points, and self-government deserves more than spin. Does President Obama think that there is such a thing as domestic propaganda? Does he think that's OK?" Sasse said Monday evening.
Sen. Tom CottonTom Bryant CottonIs the Navy totally at sea? The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Altria - House debt vote today; Biden struggles to unite Arkansas legislature splits Little Rock in move that guarantees GOP seats MORE (R-Ark.), a chief critic of the nuclear agreement, added the White House can't deny that "senior administration officials have peddled a falsehood" about the deal.
"The only question is whether that falsehood was the administration's entire rationale for the Iran deal or one staffer's grandiose claim that he manufactured that rationale out of whole cloth to manipulate the press and the American people," he added.