Sen. Tom Cotton accepted the challenge, but President Obama’s speechwriter and high-ranking foreign policy adviser Ben Rhodes ducked out of a hearing Tuesday where he was to explain whether he misled the country in pushing the Iran nuclear deal.
Members of Congress had been eager to prod Mr. Rhodes over misrepresentations, but the White House had seemed skeptical, saying lawmakers should poke one of their own, Mr. Cotton, an Arkansas Republican that Mr. Obama’s aides say has been misleading.
Mr. Cotton jumped at the chance — and then the White House backed out, refusing to let Mr. Rhodes testify, citing executive privilege.
“Specifically, the appearance of a senior presidential adviser before Congress threatens the independence and autonomy of the president, as well as his ability to receive candid advice and counsel in the discharge of his constitutional duties,” W. Neil Eggleston, the White House’s chief lawyer, wrote to the House Oversight Committee on Monday.
Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz was nonplussed.