Overnight Defense: 2020 Dems rebuke Trump on Iran deal | Trump appeals ruling on male-only draft | Kudlow claims Iran sanctions won't hike oil prices

Overnight Defense: 2020 Dems rebuke Trump on Iran deal | Trump appeals ruling on male-only draft | Kudlow claims Iran sanctions won't hike oil prices
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Happy Tuesday and welcome to Overnight Defense. I'm Ellen Mitchell, and here's your nightly guide to the latest developments at the Pentagon, on Capitol Hill and beyond. CLICK HERE to subscribe to the newsletter.


THE TOPLINE: Most of the Democrats running for president are vowing to put the United States back in the Iran nuclear deal that President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump: 'I will not let Iran have nuclear weapons' Rocket attack hits Baghdad's Green Zone amid escalating tensions: reports Buttigieg on Trump tweets: 'I don't care' MORE withdrew from nearly a year ago.

"Our intelligence community told us again and again: The #IranDeal was working to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. If Iran continues to abide by the terms of the deal, you bet I will support returning to it," Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenButtigieg jokes about holding town hall same night as 'Game of Thrones' finale Buttigieg defends appearing on Fox News: Many Americans don't hear Dems' message Warren offers to help Twitter user with her love life MORE (D-Mass.) recently tweeted.

Warren, whose campaign pointed to the February tweet when contacted this month by The Hill, backed the Iran deal in a Senate vote like several of the other Democratic senators running for president.

The background: Trump angered U.S. allies in Europe after he broke from the 2015 deal, arguing the pact endangered Israel and was poorly negotiated by the Obama administration. 


"This was a horrible, one-sided deal that should have never, ever been made," Trump said in announcing his decision in May 2018. Former President Obama, in a rare response to Trump, said his successor's decision would make the world less safe and war more likely.

Trump and other opponents of the deal argued it fell short of preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon because several provisions sunset and inspectors cannot demand to see some military sites. They also pilloried it for not addressing other troubling behavior such as Iranian support for terrorist groups. 

Hoping to further dial up pressure on Iran, Trump on Monday announced he will not renew waivers that allowed eight foreign governments to buy Iranian oil without getting sanctioned.

Cracks among Democrats: It's not surprising that Democrats running for president would oppose Trump's decision to withdraw the United States from the Iran deal.

But the agreement itself was controversial, and Democrats were not united in backing it.

Four Senate Democrats -- including Senate Democratic Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerSchumer wants investigation into Chinese-designed New York subway cars Getting serious about infrastructure Schumer calls on McConnell to hold vote on Equality Act MORE (N.Y.) -- broke with Obama over the deal when the Senate voted on a measure that would have rejected it.

Israel's government was strongly opposed to the Iran deal, and Trump has signaled he intends to use his support for Israel as a wedge issue against any Democrat who runs against him next fall.

Reasons to reenter: Still, while some Democrats are attaching qualifiers to their support for the deal, they all are indicating they'd seek to put the United States back into the agreement.

And they are casting Trump's decision to withdraw as a textbook case of his penchant for isolationism that they argue is damaging to U.S. interests.

An aide to Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersButtigieg defends appearing on Fox News: Many Americans don't hear Dems' message Buttigieg: The future 'is personal' for me Donald Trump, president for life? We need term limits now MORE (I-Vt.) told the news site Al-Monitor last month that the candidate would "rejoin" the Iran deal "and would also be prepared to talk to Iran on a range of other issues, which is what Trump should've done instead of simply walking away."

Sanders, considered a front-runner for the Democratic nomination, like Warren backed the deal in a 2015 vote in the Senate.

The other supporters: A spokesman for Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisButtigieg defends appearing on Fox News: Many Americans don't hear Dems' message De Blasio pitches himself as tough New Yorker who can take on 'Don the con' Buttigieg condemns 'voices on Fox' for spreading 'fear' and 'lies' ahead of town hall appearance MORE (D-Calif.) told Al-Monitor she supports re-entering the deal "if the U.S. could verify Iran is not cheating." Harris was not serving in the Senate when it voted on whether to block the deal from entering into force.

Pete ButtigiegPeter (Pete) Paul ButtigiegButtigieg jokes about holding town hall same night as 'Game of Thrones' finale Buttigieg defends appearing on Fox News: Many Americans don't hear Dems' message Buttigieg on Trump tweets: 'I don't care' MORE, the South Bend, Ind., mayor who is rising in Democratic presidential polls, would rejoin the deal, a spokeswoman told The Hill. Buttigieg, who would have the least experience with the deal of all the top candidates in the race, "sees it as a floor not a ceiling," the aide said, suggesting he would like negotiations to expand the agreement.

A spokesman for former Rep. Beto O'RourkeBeto O'RourkeTrump hits Fox News for 'wasting airtime' with coverage of Buttigieg Overnight Health Care — Presented by Campaign for Accountability — Momentum builds for federal laws enshrining abortion rights | Missouri lawmakers approve bill banning abortions at 8 weeks | Warren unveils plan to protect abortion rights Overnight Energy: Dems dismiss Interior chief's work calendars as 'fake' | Buttigieg climate plan includes carbon tax | Poll finds growing number say climate is crucial 2020 issue MORE (D-Texas) said he supports rejoining the deal. During his failed Senate campaign last year, O'Rourke said the deal was "imperfect," but that it "demonstrably makes the world and especially the Middle East a safer place."

Former Vice President Joe BidenJoe Robinette BidenButtigieg on Trump tweets: 'I don't care' Buttigieg: The future 'is personal' for me Donald Trump, president for life? We need term limits now MORE, who has led a number of 2020 polls and will enter the race on Thursday, served in the administration that negotiated the deal. 


TRUMP APPEALS RULING ON MALE-ONLY DRAFT: The Trump administration is appealing a federal court ruling from earlier this year that found that the Selective Service registration is unconstitutional, a move that would defend the male-only military draft.

The Justice Department argues that ordering women to register for the draft is "particularly problematic," as it would "impose draft registration on all eligible American women by judicial fiat before Congress has considered how to address the matter," according to an opposition filed Monday.

The issue: The Selective Service System requires that all men register with the agency within 30 days of their 18th birthday, while women are forbidden from doing so, an issue that has been debated since the 1980s.

But after a lawsuit by the National Coalition for Men -- an organization that describes itself as seeking to raise "awareness about the ways sex discrimination affects men and boys" -- a federal judge in Texas in February ruled that the all-male military draft is unconstitutional. 

U.S. District Judge Gray Miller of the Southern District of Texas, a George W. Bush appointee, wrote in an opinion that the "time has passed" to discuss the place of women in the military. In his ruling, however, he did not require Selective Service to change its system.

The two male plaintiffs in the National Coalition for Men case -- who argued that their chances to be sent into a war are increased because females are excluded from the draft -- now want the judge to expand his ruling with an injunction and either forces women to register for the draft or throws out mandatory registration altogether.  

The Justice Department's stance: The Justice Department argues that it is one thing for a court to declare the draft registration unconstitutional and then allow Congress and military officials to decide how to revise the law, "and quite another for a court to decide what change in policy should be adopted without any involvement by the political branches and the military."

"If the Court's declaratory judgment is upheld, it should be left to Congress, in consultation with the Executive Branch and military officials, to determine how to revise the registration system in response," writes Justice Department lawyer Michael Gerardi.

The alternative demand to get rid of the draft, meanwhile, "would be improper," as it would be "potentially compromising the country's readiness to respond to a military crisis," Gerardi adds.

A long debate: When President Carter restored draft registration in 1980, he asked Congress to include women, but lawmakers would not.

The issue came up again in 1983 when the Supreme Court ruled that an all-male draft was constitutional, as only men were able to serve in combat roles. In late 2015, the Obama administration ordered the military to open all positions to women, reopening the possibility of including women in the draft.


KUDLOW: US SANCTIONS ON IRAN OIL HAD 'NO MATERIAL IMPACT' ON MARKETS: Trump's top economic adviser said Tuesday that he does not think recently imposed sanctions on Iranian oil sales will drive up U.S. gas prices.

Larry KudlowLawrence (Larry) Alan KudlowMORE said in remarks at the National Press Club that new U.S. penalties on purchasers of Iranian oil "had no material impact" on global markets. His comments came a day after oil prices spiked to a six-month high on Monday.

"The world is awash in oil," Kudlow said, in an attempt to tamp down fears that cutting off Iranian oil from the market could cause U.S. gasoline prices to rise. "The center of the world energy system is the United States. We're the driver."

A refresher: Trump announced Monday that the U.S. would not renew waivers set to expire in May that had allowed certain nations to purchase oil from Iran without facing penalties under U.S. sanctions.

Trump reimposed a slew of financial sanctions on Iran last year when he pulled the U.S. out of the Obama-era nuclear deal with Iran. The 2015 agreement suspended sanctions targeting the country's economy, including a ban on purchasing the country's oil, in exchange to curbs to Tehran's nuclear program.

The administration in November granted sanctions waivers to China, Greece, India, Italy, Japan, Turkey, South Korea and Taiwan in a bid to ease concerns about the stability of global oil markets. The waivers allowed those countries to purchase oil from Iran without facing U.S. penalties.

"This decision is intended to bring Iran's oil exports to zero, denying the regime its principal source of revenue," said White House press secretary Sarah HuckabeeSarah Elizabeth SandersLive coverage: House panel moves forward with Barr contempt vote Mueller's facts vs Trump's spin Trump says he was called 'the greatest hostage negotiator this country has ever had' MORE Sanders in a statement.

What now? The White House this week said the U.S. would partner with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, two oil producing powerhouses and allies against Iran, "to take timely action to assure that global demand is met."

Oil prices spiked Sunday amid reports of the Trump administration's decision to lift the waivers. Brent crude futures, considered the international baseline for oil prices, rose to as high as $74.31 per barrel Monday, a 3 percent increase and the highest price in six months.



The Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction John Sopko will speak at the Defense Writers Group Breakfast at 8 a.m. at the George Washington School of Business in Washington, D.C. https://nationalsecuritymedia.gwu.edu/



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