During an extended interview segment on Tuesday’s broadcast of Morning Joe, co-host Mika Brzezinski tangled with Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) over the letter 47 Republican Senators sent to Iran. Cruz, who signed the letter written by freshman Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR), wholeheartedly defended the GOP’s decision to send it. Republicans have been criticized for interfering in delicate negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program. In her conversation with Cruz, Brzezinski sided with those accusing Republicans of trying to undermine the White House during its talks with the country.
The fireworks between Mika and Cruz began when Brzezinski asked the Texas Senator about the letter and if its intention was to stop any deal with Iran. Brzezinski also pointed out that it has been reported that Iran has brought up the letter twice during the negotiations with America and its P5+1 partners. Mika also brought up that Iranian hardliners acre using the letter for their own purposes. She asked Cruz, ”The fact that the twice now it’s come up and caused problems in the negotiations and hardliners are using it, that was the intention? You wanted that to happen?”
Cruz responded by implying that the White House is not interested in defending national security. He also stated that negotiators should be using the letter as leverage.
“The idea that hardliners are using it is utter silliness. If we actually had negotiators that were trying to defend our national security, if anything the letter would help them, because what the letter makes clear is for any deal to be binding, it has to go through Congress.”
The Morning Joe host fought back, telling Cruz that his and other GOP Senators’ actions were interfering with ongoing negotiations and it appears that the next step is to go to war with Iran.
“I’m still talking about the fact that you are saying to me that what’s happening now in terms of the hardliners using the letter to stall on these negotiations was actually a part of your intention. It just seems extremely destructive. [Crosstalk] I think it’s not inappropriate for Congress to have a say and to have a voice. But to interfere with a negotiation with Iran, and to actually possibly even undermine a deal in the making? Basically, the next step to that is to just get right down the road to war.”
At this point, co-host Joe Scarborough, who on Monday conceded that the letter was a bad idea and its combination with the Benjamin Netanyahu speech has been toxic for the country, tried to jump in and come to Cruz’s defense, stating that we wouldn’t be on a road to war if the negotiations fell through. However, Mika completely ignored him, continuing to fire away at the potential 2016 GOP Presidential candidate. She asked Cruz point blank whether or not he even knew if the deal with Iran was “a bad deal.” Cruz relented that he didn’t have all the information and was only basing his opinion on leaks.
Eventually, Scarborough and Cruz tried to double-team Brzezinski, bringing up Reagan-era Nicaragua as a precedent to this letter. (This is something Scarborough has done recently on the show so he gladly assisted Cruz in lecturing Mika.) Brzezinski was able to get the last word, though. After sitting there and listening to the two Republicans deflect, she once again brought things back to the basic issue.
“But this is all deflecting, the history lesson. It’s deflecting from whether or not the intention of the letter is what’s happening. And I’m concerned you’re saying you’re liking the effect it’s having.”
Below is video of the segment, courtesy of MSNBC:
It was refreshing to see Mika Brzezinski break through and give a well-known politician, especially one who as aspirations for the White House, an extremely tough interview with difficult and uncomfortable questions. If it were up to her cohort Scarborough, Cruz would have been able to use the segment to sell himself as a candidate and toss out his well-worn talking points. Instead, Brzezinski went on the attack and didn’t let up. Kudos to Mika for a great and tough interview.