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Biden to pick Iran nuclear deal negotiator Wendy Sherman for deputy secretary of state: report

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President-elect Joe Biden will nominate a chief architect of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, Wendy Sherman, to serve as deputy secretary of state, Politico exclusively reported Tuesday.

Presently, Sherman has a senior counselor role at the Albright Stonebridge Group, the same firm where Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the president-elect’s nominee for U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, worked as a senior counselor too.

Two people familiar close to the presidential transition told Politico that Biden will pick the seasoned diplomat to serve under his nominee for secretary of state, Antony Blinken, another Obama administration alumnus. Under former President Barack Obama, Sherman was under secretary of state for political affairs and was a chief negotiator during the controversial Iran nuclear deal, known officially as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

MORE ON BIDEN FOREIGN POLICY: ‘That would be a mistake’: Nikki Haley urges Biden not to ditch all Trump foreign policies

President Donald Trump, a major critic of Iran and the JCPOA, withdrew the United States from the agreement and cranked up sanctions on the authoritarian state, much to the frustration of U.S. allies in the multilateral agreement.

“This was a horrible one-sided deal that should have never, ever been made,” Trump argued in his May 8, 2018 announcement of the U.S. withdrawal. “It didn’t bring calm, it didn’t bring peace, and it never will.”

MORE ON IRAN:

Iran will begin 20 percent uranium enrichment ‘as soon as possible’

Ex-Israeli ambassador advises Biden against re-entering the Iran nuclear deal

Since leaving the Obama administration, Sherman has been a vocal critic of President Trump’s foreign policy. She has especially gone after him for his relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

In a July 2020 article in Foreign Policy titled “The Total Destruction of U.S. Foreign Policy Under Trump,” Sherman, while also attacking Trump for his handling of Russian bounties on U.S. troops in Afghanistan, wrote: “Years from now, we will hopefully discover the exact nature of Trump’s personal relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin beyond mere envy of power.”

Prior to serving under President Obama, Sherman also served in the Clinton administration as its policy coordinator for North Korea. Her role at the time has received scrutiny, with President George H.W. Bush’s Secretary of State James Baker and Trump’s former national security advisor John Bolton have both accused Sherman of “appeasement” toward the hostile totalitarian dictatorship.

You can follow Douglas Braff on Twitter @Douglas_P_Braff.

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Biden frees Venezuelan President Maduro’s drug dealing relatives in prisoner swap

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President Biden freed two of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s relatives Saturday in exchange for seven jailed Americans. The two nephews of Maduro’s wife Cilia Flores, had been convicted in the United States for drug dealing and sentenced to 18 years in prison, according to the BBC.

According to the report, the swap was in exchange for five American oil executives. Those Americans were “exchanged for two of Mr Maduro’s wife’s nephews, who were serving 18-year sentences in the US on drug charges,” the officials told the BBC. Maduro’s nephews were convicted under the Trump administration and the Venezuelan government claims that they were “unjustly” jailed in the United States.

In a statement from the White House Saturday, Biden said the American’s were  “wrongfully detained.”  He said the American’s  would soon be reunited with their relatives, according to reports.

“Today, we celebrate that seven families will be whole once more. To all the families who are still suffering and separated from their loved ones who are wrongfully detained – know that we remain dedicated to securing their release,” the Biden statement added.

Meanwhile, 13 Republican members of Congress sent a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, requesting more information on “the intelligence report” that alleges Maduro is emptying his prisons and allowing them to head to the United States in the caravans that crossing the porous border.

The letter states that the report warns Border Patrol agents to be on the look-out for “violent criminals from Venezuela among the migrant caravans heading towards the U.S.-Mexico border.”

“It has been widely reported that the Venezuelan regime, under the control of Nicolás Maduro Moros, is deliberately releasing violent prisoners early, including inmates convicted of ‘murder, rape, and extortion,’ and pushing them to join caravans heading to the United States,” the letter states.

You can follow Sara A. Carter on Twitter @SaraCarterDC.

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