Boehner: I'd applaud Obama for leaving Iran talks

Last Updated Jul 12, 2015 11:11 AM EDT

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said he would applaud President Obama for walking away from talks over Iran's nuclear program because "no deal is better than a bad deal."

"From everything that's leaked from these negotiations, the administration's backed away from almost all of the guidelines that they set up for themselves. And I don't want to see a bad deal. And so if, in fact, there's no agreement, the sanctions are gonna go back in place," Boehner said in an interview with "Face the Nation" host John Dickerson that aired Sunday.

The talks have dragged nearly two weeks beyond the initial June 30 deadline by which six world powers and Iran were supposed to finalize an agreement. A framework agreement reached earlier this year would limit but not entirely eliminate Iran's nuclear program in exchange for a gradual lifting of certain international sanctions. But negotiators are still hung up over a handful of issues, including the scope of access United Nations inspectors will have to nuclear sites and how to handle international sanctions that ban Iran from buying or selling missiles and conventional weapons.

Boehner said the Iranian regime must abandon its efforts to create a nuclear weapon and stop sponsoring terror groups around the world. If those two things don't happen, he said, "we'll have a standoff."

But that option, Boehner added, is "a lot better than legitimizing this rogue regime," which is what would happen if there is a deal.

Boehner also talked about the House's ongoing investigation of the 2012 attack on a U.S. diplomatic facility in Benghazi, Libya, and former Secretary of State Clinton's role in the aftermath. A House committee investigating the attacks has spent months trying to obtain all of Clinton's email about the attacks after it was revealed that she used a private email server while serving in the Obama administration.

In a CNN interview last week, Clinton said, "everything I did was permitted by law and regulation."

In response, Boehner said, "We are not going to walk away from this." With the State Department sending the committee about 4,000 emails per month, he predicted that the committee would be gathering documents for the rest of the year.

Boehner isn't ruling out issuing a subpoena for the email server, something the committee investigating the Benghazi attacks does not have the authority to do.

"I'm not going to rule in or out any of those options. I would hope we wouldn't have to do that," Boehner said. "She wants this investigation over, she wants this all to be cleaned up. But the fact is it's not going to be cleaned up until we get the emails."

Boehner did say, however, that investigator general at the State Department should be the one to go after the server, because they are the appropriate people to determine what should and shouldn't be public. Plus, he said, "Congress doesn't want the server."

He predicted that Independent Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders will give Clinton "a real run for her money" in the Democratic primary but said that both candidates are "out of step with mainstream America" because "there's no limit to the number of taxes that Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton want to raise."

Boehner was more reticent to weigh in on the crowded field of Republican candidates competing for the GOP nomination in 2016. Asked whether Trump was helping or hurting the party with his recent comments about Mexican immigrants, Boehner said, "I don't know whether he's helping or hurting, but he's a candidate."

He said, "certainly, I disagree" with Trump's comments and that other candidates "have much more responsible positions."

One dimension of the immigration debate has been sanctuary cities, areas where local officials are prevented from helping the federal government enforce immigration laws. San Francisco, where a young woman was recently shot and killed by an immigrant in the U.S. illegally who had been deported five times, is one such city.

"These are laws. They are on the books. They are required to be enforced. There's no ifs, ands or buts here. And the fact is that some cities have decided to ignore the law, uh-- is wrong. It's flat out wrong," Boehner said.

He reiterated his position that President Obama is responsible for the larger failure of immigration reform legislation, saying, he "stirred up the American people in such a way that it would almost be impossible to do immigration reform" by addressing it executive orders.

He said Congress shouldn't just send the president a bill -- even one that he would veto -- because there has been "a lot of bipartisan work done" on the issue for many years.

"I don't think there's that big of a difference in terms of how to reform our immigration laws," Boehner said.

As he talked about Pope Francis' upcoming visit to the U.S., including a speech to Congress, Boehner said it has taken 20 years and three different invitations to get the head of the Catholic Church to come to D.C.

"I'm really happy that the pope has accepted my invitation. You know, for a kid who grew up goin' to mass every morning, it's a pretty humbling experience," he said.

A practicing Catholic, Boehner described his faith as "very deep."

"I have my conversations with the Lord. They start in the morning early and they go on all day long. You can't do this job by yourself," he said.

  • Rebecca Kaplan

    Rebecca Kaplan is a political reporter for CBSNews.com.