John Kerry ‘Actively Undermining’ US Policy on Iran
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is unloading on his Obama-era predecessor John Kerry for “actively undermining” US policy on Iran by meeting several times recently with the Iranian foreign minister, who was his main interlocutor in the Iran nuclear deal negotiations.
Friday, in blunt and caustic language, Secretary Pompeo said Friday that Mr. Kerry’s meetings with Mohammad Javad Zarif were “unseemly and unprecedented” and “beyond inappropriate.”
Late Thursday, President Donald Trump accused Mr Kerry of holding “illegal meetings with the very hostile Iranian Regime, which can only serve to undercut our great work to the detriment of the American people.”
Secretary Pompeo said he would leave “legal determinations to others” but slammed Mr. Kerry as a former Secretary of State for engaging with “the world’s largest state-sponsor of terror” and telling Iran to “wait out this administration.”
“You cannot find precedent for this in US history, and Secretary Kerry ought not to engage in that kind of behavior,” Secretary Pompeo told reporters at the State Department. “It’s inconsistent with what foreign policy of the United States is as directed by this president, and it is beyond inappropriate for him to be engaged.”
John Kerry is out promoting his new book “Every Day is Extra,” Tweeted a response to President Trump that referred to the President’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort.
“Mr. President, you should be more worried about Paul Manafort meeting with Robert Mueller than me meeting with Iran’s FM. But if you want to learn something about the nuclear agreement that made the world safer, buy my new book,” said Kerry.
Mr. Kerry has been harshly critical of the President and his decision in May to withdraw from the Iran deal but denies “coaching” Tehran.
In a statement, his spokesman, Matt Summers, said: “There’s nothing unusual, let alone unseemly or inappropriate, about former diplomats meeting with foreign counterparts. Secretary (Henry) Kissinger has done it for decades with Russia and China. What is unseemly and unprecedented is for the podium of the State Department to be hijacked for political theatrics.”
Secretary Pompeo also took to task former Energy Secretary Earnest Moniz and ex-Iran deal negotiator Wendy Sherman for joining Kerry at a meeting with Zarif and other Iranian officials earlier this year at a security conference in Munich — though Sherman said Friday she wasn’t with Kerry and Moniz when she met Zarif there. Along with Kerry, Moniz and Sherman played key roles in negotiating the Y 2015 agreement between Iran and several world powers that lifted sanctions against Tehran in exchange for restrictions on its nuclear program.
“I wasn’t in the meeting, but I am reasonably confident that he was not there in support of US policy with respect to the Islamic Republic of Iran,” Secretary Pompeo said.
“Former secretaries of state ought not to be engaged in” this kind of activity, he said. “Actively undermining US policy as a former Secretary of State is literally unheard of.”
Meetings between a private US citizen and foreign official are not against the law and not necessarily inappropriate or a violation of federal regulations, but President Trump, Secretary Pompeo and several GOP lawmakers say they are evidence Mr. Kerry and former Hussein Obama Administration officials are trying to subvert President Trump’s hard line on Iran.
“John Kerry had illegal meetings with the very hostile Iranian Regime, which can only serve to undercut our great work to the detriment of the American people,”President Trump Tweeted late Thursday. “He told them to wait out the Trump Administration! Was he registered under the Foreign Agents Registration Act? BAD!”
The law President Trump invoked, the Foreign Agents Registration Act, or FARA, requires registration and transparency by people or companies acting on behalf of foreign governments, political parties or individuals.
When reports of Mr. Kerry’s ex-officio contacts with Zarif first surfaced in May, President Trump tweeted similar thoughts. “John Kerry can’t get over the fact that he had his chance and blew it! Stay away from negotiations John, you are hurting your country!” he said on May 8. A day earlier, he tweeted: “The United States does not need John Kerry’s possibly illegal Shadow Diplomacy on the very badly negotiated Iran Deal. He was the one that created this MESS in the first place!”
President Trump and Secretary Pompeo’s criticism came after Mr. Kerry told conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt Wednesday that earlier reports of his meetings with Zarif were correct: They had met 4 times since Mr. Kerry left office but not since Pompeo took the job in April. One of those meetings took place in Oslo, Norway, and another in Munich, he said. A 3rd is reported to have occurred at the United Nations HQ in NYC.
Mr. Kerry said that he was not coaching the Iranians on how to deal with The Trump Administration.
“That’s not my job… What I have done is tried to elicit from him (Zarif) what Iran might be willing to do in order to change the dynamic in the Middle East for the better.”
Have a terrific weekend