Former secretary of state John Kerry is back in the Trump administration’s crosshairs after acknowledging that he met with Iranian officials after he left office, raising questions about whether such a meeting was appropriate for a former diplomat with no official role in government.
Kerry, who served during President Barack Obama’s administration, mentioned during a book tour that he met with the Iranian foreign minister Javad Zarif three or four times after he retired. During an interview, Kerry said the discussions included the Iran nuclear deal — a landmark agreement from Kerry’s term that has since been abandoned by President Donald Trump.
In a separate interview on Fox News, Kerry defended the meetings, saying that, in his view, the US had “lost leverage” in the international community under Trump.
“When I met with the Iranians, the policy of the United States was still to be in the Iran deal,” Kerry said on Wednesday. “Secondly, every former secretary of state continues to meet with foreign leaders, goes to security conferences, goes around the world, we all do that.”
US policy on Iran has traditionally been split along party lines. Although Pompeo alleged Kelly’s dealings with the Iranians were “unseemly and unprecedented,” Republican leaders made a similar intervention that was steeped in political innuendo.
In an open letter in 2015, 47 Republican senators put the Iranian government on notice and warned that “any agreement” on its nuclear weapons program that was not approved by lawmakers would merely be an “executive agreement” with Obama.
“It has come to our attention while observing your nuclear negotiations with our government that you may not fully understand our constitutional system,” the letter said, as it outlined the ratification process in Congress.
“The next president could revoke such an executive agreement with the stroke of a pen and future Congresses could modify the terms of the agreement at any time,” the letter added.
On Friday afternoon, Kerry replied to Trump’s tweet with a quip: “Mr. President, you should be more worried about Paul Manafort meeting with Robert Mueller than me meeting with Iran’s [foreign minister],” Kerry said in a tweet, referring to former campaign chairman Paul Manafort’s guilty plea in special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation. “But if you want to learn something about the nuclear agreement that made the world safer, buy my new book.”
“PS – I recorded the audio version, not Omarosa,” he added.