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Trump at the CPAC political conference in February. Photo: Alex Brandon / AP

President Trump will announce Friday that he'll refuse to certify Iran's compliance with Congress' law overseeing the nuclear deal; but he will not withdraw America from the deal, per sources familiar with the speech's contents.

Bottom line: Trump isn't withdrawing but he's setting the Iran deal on a perilous course and giving a huge opening to Iran hawks on Capitol Hill to ultimately destroy this agreement.

Trump's speech will focus very little on the certification question and much more on the Trump administration's big picture strategy to deal with Iran. Trump will focus on Iran's non-nuclear misbehavior — its funding of terrorist outfits like Hezbollah, export of foreign fighters, and broader malign activities in the Middle East such as trying to overthrow the government in Yemen.

By refusing to certify Iran's compliance with the deal, Trump leaves Congress three options:

  1. Do nothing; don't apply new sanctions and leave the existing law in place. The upshot: Trump will have strained relations with Iran and European allies but nothing will have substantively changed. Obama's nuclear deal remains intact.
  2. Snap sanctions back on Iran. The upshot: America tears up the nuclear deal.
  3. "Fix" the deal: This is the option Trump is likely to push. Domestically, fixing/strengthening will be done either through Congress; or by executive order if Congress can't or won't pass legislation that toughens the deal.

The Corker-Cotton deal is important because these two GOP senators, who are influential on foreign policy, had differing opinions about what should be included in this legislation but they figured it out behind closed doors. Still going to be a huge lift to get to 60 votes. Unlikely they'll receive much Democratic support.

What's new: As far as the international arena goes, White House officials explained to outside experts yesterday that they believe they can work with the Europeans or go it alone to set benchmarks that the Iranians will be forced to follow or else risk being completely cut-off from the international system. This is designed to address concerns that any fix will require cooperation from the Russians and Chinese — something nobody thinks will happen.

  • A source who was briefed on the conversation explained to Axios that the Americans and Europeans can decide among themselves to condition Iran's continuing access to the global financial system on Iran not exploiting the sunset clauses in the current deal to get a nuke.

Go deeper

State Department to set up new cyber bureau to combat hack attacks

Secretary of State Tony Blinken speaks on the challenges during an October conference in Quito, Ecuador. Photo:y Felipe Stanley/Agencia Press South/Getty Images

Secretary of State Tony Blinken announced Monday plans for the State Department to create a new bureau of cyberspace and digital policy.

Why it matters: The establishment of the bureau and plans for a new envoy to oversee critical and emerging technology come after a series significant hack attacks and other online crimes, notably ransomware assaults on U.S. infrastructure.

Biden rejects Trump's latest executive privilege claims

Photo: Jim Watson and Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

The White House on Monday rejected two more of former President Trump's claims of executive privilege over documents that the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol riot requested, CNN first reported.

Why it matters: Trump's legal team is seeking to block some of the panel's requests for records by invoking executive privilege, which can allow presidents and their aides to sidestep congressional scrutiny. The Biden administration has maintained that it will evaluate on a case-by-case basis.

Amazon warehouse workers in New York file petition to hold unionization vote

Amazon workers and their supporters rally outside the National Labor Relations Board's regional office in Brooklyn, New York City, after filing a petition requesting an election to form a union. Photo: Gabby Jones/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Amazon warehouse workers in New York City filed a petition on Monday with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to hold a vote on unionization.

Why it matters: The move comes six months after an organizing effort was defeated at Amazon's distribution center in Alabama.

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