Top Iranian Presidential Adviser Says Tehran's 'Sole Problem is Trump,' Not Average American People

A top adviser to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, who has long accused the U.S. government of wanting war, said Sunday that Iran has "zero problems" with average Americans, adding that Iran takes issue with President Donald Trump only.

Hesameddin Ashena, an Iranian politician and upper-echelon member of Rouhani's Moderation and Development Party, made the distinction and has ridiculed the Trump administration's "maximum pressure strategy" for months, frequently mocking the political minutiae and problems emanating from the Trump White House. The top Iranian adviser echoed Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's rhetoric, who has previously said "Death to America" chants are directed at U.S. government leaders and not the American people.

"We have ZERO problems with the American people. We even achieved deals with previous US administrations. Our sole problem is Trump. In the event of war, it is he who will bear full responsibility," Ashena wrote on Twitter early Sunday morning.

Ashena's comments were praised on social media by Americans looking to distance themselves from Trump's decision last week to order the killing of Iran General Qasem Soleimani. But critics and supporters of the president noted that the Iranian government and Khamenei are simply trying to drive a wedge between the U.S. people and their own government.

Ashena frequently uses his Twitter account to blast the Trump administration, responding to the firing of Bolton in September by saying "the marginalization and subsequent elimination of Bolton is not an accident but a decisive sign of the failure of the U.S. maximum pressure strategy in the face of the constructive resistance of Iran."

The Iranian politician, who is part of Rouhani's "inner circle," wrote on the social media app Telegram last week that "Trump through his gamble has dragged the U.S. into the most dangerous situation in the region," the Associated Press reported. Ashena echoed Iranian state television that described the killing of Soleimani as "the biggest miscalculation by the U.S."

The Rouhani adviser has also highlighted what he and other top Iranian officials have described as the hypocrisy of the Trump administration, which claims the U.S. doesn't want war with Iran. "War and sanctions are two sides of the same coin ... If you do not want war, you should do something with the sanctions," he tweeted in June.

Last February, Ayatollah Khamenei said "Death to America" chants in Iran are directed at top U.S. leaders such as Trump and Bolton—and not at Americans themselves. "Death to America' means death to Trump, (National Security Adviser) John Bolton, and (Secretary of State Mike) Pompeo. It means death to American rulers," the Supreme Leader of Iran told members of the Iranian Air Force last year during the country's 40th Anniversary of the Islamic Revolution.

Iranian state television has noted that Ashena's name is frequently spelled as Hesamodin Ashna.

iran adviser problem trump americans
A top adviser to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, who has long accused the U.S. government of wanting war, remarked Sunday that Iran has "zero problems" with average Americans - their issues are only with President Donald Trump. Getty Images/TED ALJIBE / AFP