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 TrumpChelsea Clinton announces birth of third child Ukrainian officials and Giuliani are sharing back-channel campaign information: report Trump attacks 'the Squad' as 'racist group of troublemakers' 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 WarrenWarren warns another 'economic crash' is coming The Hill's Morning Report — Mueller Time: Dems, GOP ready questions for high-stakes testimony Biden's lead narrows in early voting states: poll 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. 

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"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 SchumerTrump says he will meet with Schumer 'ASAP' after border visit Dem senator describes 'overcrowded quarters,' 'harsh odor' at border facilities Top Democrats demand security assessment of Trump properties 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 Sanders'Medicare for All': The hype v. Maryland's reality Biden says he supports paying campaign staff minimum wage Biden's lead narrows in early voting states: poll 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 HarrisThe Hill's Morning Report — Mueller Time: Dems, GOP ready questions for high-stakes testimony Biden's lead narrows in early voting states: poll New CBS poll shows Biden with 7-point lead in New Hampshire 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 ButtigiegNashville radio host blocked by employer from airing his interview with Buttigieg Buttigieg says white supremacy could be 'issue that ends this country' Biden's lead narrows in early voting states: poll 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'RourkeBiden's lead narrows in early voting states: poll New CBS poll shows Biden with 7-point lead in New Hampshire Ted Cruz: Trump's chances of winning reelection are '50-50' 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 BidenUkrainian officials and Giuliani are sharing back-channel campaign information: report The Hill's Morning Report — Mueller Time: Dems, GOP ready questions for high-stakes testimony Biden campaign taps foreign policy vet Nicholas Burns as adviser: report 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 SandersBiden pledges return to daily press briefings as president Sarah Sanders: I will walk out of the White House 'with my head held high' Trump directs Pentagon to develop policy allowing service academy athletes to go pro right away 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.

 

ON TAP FOR TOMORROW

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/

 

ICYMI

-- The Hill: Iran oil minister: US made 'bad mistake' in ending sanctions waivers

-- The Hill: UN passes sexual violence resolution after reported US veto threat

-- The Hill: UK politicians criticize planned Trump appearance at D-Day commemorations

-- The Hill: Saudi Arabia beheads 37 prisoners for alleged terrorism crimes

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