Republican lawmakers are demanding an investigation of federal climate czar John Kerry, after a leaked recording appeared to reveal that he told Iran’s foreign minister about covert Israeli military operations in Syria — which he later denied.
“These are very serious allegations and knowing the position that he holds in government and position that he did hold, yes, it should be investigated. Knowing if these are true, I think it should go beyond him just resigning,” said Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), the GOP leader in the House, on Tuesday.
Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY), a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said Kerry should testify to the panel about whether he gave sensitive information to Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.
“Israel remains America’s staunchest and most loyal ally in the Middle East, and the idea that America’s former top diplomat would leak sensitive information about covert military operations to the world’s largest state sponsor of terror — putting Israeli lives at risk — is massively alarming,” Zeldin said in a statement Tuesday.
“Secretary Kerry must immediately testify before the House Foreign Affairs Committee to address these serious allegations, and if Kerry did actively undermine Israel, he must resign from the Biden administration immediately and have his security clearance revoked,” he added.
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) said if the audiotape is verified, “it would signal catastrophic and disqualifying recklessness” by Kerry that “endangered the safety of Americans and our allies.”
“And it would be consistent with his long pattern of empowering Iran’s regime. Kerry poured hundreds of billions of dollars into the Ayatollah’s terrorist bank accounts, was a close confidant with Zarif during the Obama administration, and was caught repeatedly meeting with him during the Trump administration (notwithstanding the Logan Act) — and has never publicly accounted for what they discussed,” Cruz said in a statement.
Zarif, in a leaked interview with an Iranian journalist, said he received critical intelligence from Kerry about the Israeli strikes.
“It was former US Foreign Secretary John Kerry who told me Israel had launched more than 200 attacks on Iranian forces in Syria,” he said.
Kerry, who served as secretary of state in the Obama administration from 2013 to 2017, denied Zarif’s accusations.
“I can tell you that this story and these allegations are unequivocally false. This never happened — either when I was Secretary of State or since,” he wrote on his Twitter account Monday evening.
The post also contained a link to a September 2018 Reuters story that quoted Israeli Intelligence Minister Israel Katz talking about military strikes against Syria that began in 2013.
“Only just now it was published — in the name of military sources, so I can quote it too — that in the last two years Israel has taken military action more than 200 times within Syria itself,” the news agency quoted Katz saying in a speech.
Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, told Fox News that an investigation into Kerry’s actions should be launched and if Zarif’s claims are proven true, “then John Kerry should seriously consider resignation.”
She said Kerry’s comments put “our men and women in uniform at risk.”
Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the audiotape makes him question whether Kerry, President Biden’s climate envoy, can be trusted to negotiate a return to the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.
“Before we cut a deal with Iran that reduces Americans’ security, it would be good to know what the arrangement, if any, may have been between these two leaders,” Pompeo told the Washington Free Beacon.
Kerry played an instrumental role in brokering the nuclear pact that former President Donald Trump withdrew the US from in 2018.
Pompeo also said the leaked recording confirms “what I’ve said for years: That [Zarif] continued to engage with former Secretary of State Kerry on policy matters after Kerry’s public service and, according to Zarif, Kerry informed the Iranians of Israeli operations.”
But Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said he’s skeptical of Zarif’s credibility.
“I don’t know if we should trust that tape or not. If it’s true, it’s very damaging,” Graham said, according to the Washington Examiner. “I like John Kerry, but that would not be helpful, and it would be very problematic if it were true. But let’s wait and see how authentic this is.”