Having failed to receive the decertification option from his own team, Trump called Senator Tom Cotton and put him on speakerphone. The president asked Cotton to make the case for decertifying the Iran deal. Cotton took five minutes and walked Trump and his team through the case, emphasizing one point in particular: recertifying the deal would be declaring that it was in the national security interest of the United States, something Cotton understood that Trump didn’t believe. Bannon provided the political complement to Cotton’s policy argument: Mr. President, you campaigned on tearing up the deal and now you’re recertifying it—for the second time?
Trump left the phone call, and the meeting, even more convinced that his decision that morning—to decertify—was the right one. When he had reluctantly recertified in April, he had made clear that he didn’t want to do it again and had instructed his team to provide him with a wide range of options. They didn’t.