But Trump — just like Zolnour and his fellow thugs in the Iranian regime — has little interest in factual accuracy. He’s far more interested in assailing his domestic foes (in this case, his predecessor in office). And in this sense, we see a striking overlap between Trump and the mullahs. It’s a sort of call-and-response relationship.
They may hate each other, but both thrive on whipping up their domestic audiences with “revelations” about the sins of their political rivals. Insular Iranian hard-liners attack their counterparts who favor engagement with the West by accusing them of sucking up to the United States. Trump and his conservative allies use any hint of compromise with Iran (such as the nuclear deal) to brand the Democrats as traitors.
Iran hawks frequently endorse policies that work to the benefit of their hard-line counterparts in Iran, but it is less common for them to endorse the other side’s bogus claims to attack their critics at home. The president echoed absurd, false accusations leveled by Rouhani’s hard-line domestic opponents and first published by an Iranian propaganda outlet in an attempt to score points against Obama and other supporters of the nuclear deal. He never bothered to verify the claim because he automatically believes anything that seems to support his rejection of the JCPOA.
Opponents of the nuclear deal in the U.S. and Iran typically don’t agree about why the deal was a bad one, since our hard-liners imagine that the deal was a huge giveaway to Iran and theirs think it was exactly the opposite, but in this case some from each side are united in spreading the same falsehood to attack the deal’s supporters. It is in keeping with the poor quality of the “debate” over the nuclear deal that the opponents’ claims are completely false and without any merit. It is a measure of how pathetic the case against the nuclear deal has always been that its opponents have to make things up about it, and it is a mark of how terrible Trump’s judgment is that he readily believes and endorses obvious falsehoods without question when they suit his prejudices.