Secretary of State Mike Pompeo launched a broadside against his predecessor, John Kerry, on Friday, blasting Kerry’s private meetings with Iranian officials and suggesting that they are “actively undermining U.S. policy.”
“What Secretary Kerry has done is unseemly and unprecedented,” Pompeo told reporters at the State Department during a briefing that addressed President Trump’s executive order threatening sanctions on foreign actors who interfere in U.S. elections. “This is a former secretary of state engaged with the world’s largest state sponsor of terror. It’s inconsistent with what the foreign policy of the United States is as directed by this president, and it is beyond inappropriate for him to be engaged in this.”
Pompeo said he would leave the legality of Kerry’s meetings up to others to determine, but warned that no former secretary of state “from either political party” and no former administration officials should engage in such activities.
Kerry has admitted to meeting “three or four times” with Iranian foreign minister Javad Zarif after leaving his position as secretary of state. The two were key players in negotiating President Barack Obama’s Iran nuclear deal, which the Trump administration scrapped in May.
Kerry was asked by Fox News host Dana Perino on Wednesday whether he has “been telling Iranians to wait out President Trump and the administration and to wait until there is a Democratic president in 2021.”
“Well, I think everybody in the world is sitting around talking about waiting out President Trump,” Kerry responded. “Every secretary of state, former secretary of state, continues to meet with foreign leaders.”
Kerry said that he, too, objects to Iran’s terrorist activities and interference in wars in Yemen and Syria, “but we differ in how you’re going to control them. We believe by pulling out unilaterally the president has actually made it harder for an Iranian leader to deal with them.”
Pompeo said he recalled seeing Kerry along with Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz and former undersecretary of state Wendy Sherman at the Munich Security Conference this year.
“I am confident they met with their troika counterparts. I wasn’t in the meeting, but I am reasonably confident that he was not there in support of U.S. policy with respect to the Islamic Republic of Iran,” Pompeo said. “Actively undermining U.S. policy as a former secretary of state is literally unheard of.”