Rep. Peter King of New York said a letter sent by Republican senators to the Iranian government regarding a deal on its nuclear program was a bad idea that undermined the office of the presidency.
"This sounds patronizing, I don't know if they fully thought through what they were doing," King told the John Gambling Show last week.
"Yeah, I wouldn't have done it," the Long Island Republican said. "Now, I agree with everything that's in the letter I just don't believe that members of Congress either House or Senate should be negotiating or contacting directly a foreign government which is negotiating with the president. I think it undermines the office of the presidency."
The comments go further than public comments King made at an event early last week where he said, "I don't know if I would have signed the letter."
King said he understands the frustration of those who sent the letter but members of Congress shouldn't be trying contact a foreign government and he thought it hurt chances of bipartisan support for legislation that would require Congress to review any deal.
"Now I can understand their frustration. I think that President Obama's headed toward a bad deal. I get the clear impression he wants an agreement no matter what, and so I understand their frustration, but I think that it's a bad precedent to set to be reaching out and contacting, ya know, negotiating, trying to influence directly an enemy government. No matter how I would feel about the Obama administration I wouldn't have done the letter and I think what it's done also is there was really the chance of a solid partisan coalition to enact legislation requiring that Congress have to approve this agreement. This is going to make it harder to get that bipartisan support. Whether it should or not the reality is that it does because it makes it more of a partisan issue."
He called the letter's author, Sen. Tom Cotton, a "wonderful guy" and a "rising star" but said "calmer heads would have sat back and said 'just send this letter to the president. Make it an open letter to President Obama, not to the Iranian government.'"
Andrew Kaczynski is a political reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
Contact Andrew Kaczynski at email@example.com.
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