Rep. Brad Sherman puts Secretary Kerry on the spot

This is a rush transcript from "Your World," July 29, 2015. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: All right. We are about an hour away from the sell job of all sell jobs at the White House, this time with congressional Democrats meeting with the president.

And it is an all-out effort to try to keep them in line or as many in line to support that Iranian deal.

Welcome, everybody. I’m Neil Cavuto.

And just in case you think the administration is only worried about Republicans and all their angst about this Iranian deal, think again, because this fellow was giving John Kerry a heck of a grilling in Congress yesterday. And, by the way, he’s a Democrat. Have a look.


REP. BRAD SHERMAN, D-CALIF.: Let’s say Congress doesn’t take your advice, we override a veto, and the law that’s triggered then imposes certain sanctions. Will you follow the law, even though you think it violates this agreement clearly, and even if you think it’s absolutely terrible policy?

JOHN KERRY, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: I can’t begin to answer that at that point without consulting with the president and determining what the circumstances are.

SHERMAN: So you’re not committed to following the law?

KERRY: No, I said I’m not going to deal with a hypothetical. That’s all.


CAVUTO: All right, to that congressman, California Democrat Brad Sherman.
He will be among the Democrats meeting with the president.

And, Congressman, I appreciate your taking the time ahead of that.

People who know you know that you’re a fair and balanced critic, whether it’s with Republicans or Democrats, so my hat is off to you on that. If things don’t add up to you, make it well known. But in this case, you were raising serious reservations about this deal and whether you’re privy to all the aspects of it.

You meet with the president in a little over an hour. What are you going to ask him?

SHERMAN: Well, we will see how -- what other questions are asked and how I can build on those.

I am concerned, as I asked the secretary of state, whether -- if Congress overrides the president’s veto, if we impose by statute various sanctions or reimpose them, whether the executive branch will follow that law.

Keep in mind, George W. Bush violated our sanctions law on Iran every day for eight years. That sounds unusual, because you think George W. Bush must have been really tough on Iran. All of our sanctions laws were sanctions against international oil companies, and not a single one of them was enforced. It got laughable, as we would prove to the administration again and again that this or that oil company had made an investment in the Iranian oil sector, triggering American sanctions, and they would say, no, we don’t want to deal with that.

So, having lived through so many years with presidents deliberately ignoring the statutes, deliberately violating the law during the Bush administration, I would like to know before I vote on the law that will be before us in September whether this president will follow it.

CAVUTO: Now, there has been criticism of Republican and Democratic administrations alike on they might be playing fast and loose when it comes to international agreements of any sort. But here there’s a lot we don’t know.

And I know a lot of your colleagues are concerned on the right and the left about side deals and the like. Now, we can get into the weeds here on all of that, as -- and you know this better than I do, but is it your sense that the votes are there to override a presidential veto, assuming it comes to that?

SHERMAN: No. I think it’s pretty unlikely.

This town of Washington is pretty partisan. The president can usually count on an overwhelming majority of his own party. That was different on the trade deal, where all the Democratic grassroots were on one side and the president was on the other. But this is a more typical circumstance.

And so a lot of my colleagues are studying this deal. They will spend a month out in their districts talking to people, so it’s hard to predict.
But, at this stage, I would say, no, there are not the votes to override a veto.

And what concerns me is that if the speaker puts up a vote on overriding a veto, knowing that it -- that the veto will not be overridden, it sends a confused message to the world, because the proponents of the deal can then celebrate their victory, even if it’s a 35 percent to 65 percent victory.

CAVUTO: So, even though this deal would be rejected in both the House and the Senate, don’t try to go for the override, is that what you’re saying?

SHERMAN: I would say, if you go for the override, knowing you don’t have it, the international effect of that is to make people think that this is a ratified treaty, because they will see a headline, President Obama’s Iran deal wins big victory in the United States Congress.


CAVUTO: That’s what confuses me, that even though it doesn’t -- it was rejected. They’re not aware of our arcane politics and that it requires a two-third vote and all of that. I understand it.

But it would have been rejected in both houses most likely, to your point, not close enough to override a veto. Is that how you think it would be interpreted?

SHERMAN: I fear it would be.


SHERMAN: And I think that the giant celebration by the proponents of the agreement would just tend a little bit more to lock in future presidents and future Congresses.

CAVUTO: OK. I understand what you’re saying.

SHERMAN: My main goal is to make it clear to the world this isn’t a treaty. This is certainly not a ratified treaty. This isn’t an executive legislative agreement. This is the lowest level of international handshaking.

CAVUTO: But it would be a done deal. But it would be a done deal. In that event, it would be a done deal.

In fact, many argue who are lawyers tell me that because it went right to the U.N. Security Council first, it doesn’t matter what we do, that this deal sticks, and with our key partners in the U.N., they will start lifting those sanctions and providing billions of dollars in what was once frozen money to Iran, like pronto. So, guys like you and what you’re trying to do and trying to address become a moot point.

SHERMAN: That’s clearly the strategy.

And even many of the opponents of the deal believe that both sides will follow it or mostly follow it, no matter what Congress does, for the first year, because Iran needs to get its tens of billions of dollars.

CAVUTO: I got you.

SHERMAN: So, they will probably go through implementation date, which is a defined term, six to nine months from now.

What I hate about this deal is the long term, when Iran, after 10 to 15 years, is allowed to have unlimited stockpiles, unlimited numbers of centrifuges. This deal is the good and the bad at the beginning and the truly ugly next decade.

CAVUTO: All right.

SHERMAN: And we have to make it clear to the American people that we have got to force a renegotiation.

CAVUTO: All right, Congressman, thank you very much.

I have got some good news and bad. Good news, you were great on this show.
The bad news, is that meeting has been rescheduled for 4:15, so you better get hopping. All right, we will watch what happens there.

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