President Donald Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo lashed out at former Secretary of State John Kerry for his meetings with Iran’s foreign minister after the Obama-appointee had left office.
“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,” Trump said on Twitter late Thursday.
“He told them to wait out the Trump Administration!” he said, ending his Tweet with the word “BAD!”
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also said on Friday his Obama-era predecessor John Kerry has been “actively undermining” US policy on Iran.
“What Secretary Kerry has done is unseemly and unprecedented,” Pompeo told a news conference, adding that he “ought not to engage in that kind of behavior. It’s inconsistent with what the foreign policy of the United States is, as directed by this president. It is beyond inappropriate.”
Pompeo said he would leave “legal determinations to others” but slammed 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.”
Pompeo contended on Friday: “You can’t find precedent for this in US history.”
Kerry, who negotiated the 2015 Iran nuclear deal which Trump scrapped this year, said during a tour to promote his new book “Every Day is Extra” that he had met Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif “three or four times” since he left office and Trump had entered the White House.
Asked by conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt on Wednesday if he had offered Zarif advice on how to deal with Trump’s decision to withdraw from the pact, he replied: “No, that’s not my job.
“What I have done is tried to elicit from him what Iran might be willing to do in order to change the dynamic in the Middle East for the better.
“I’ve been very blunt to Foreign Minister Zarif, and told him look, you guys need to recognize that the world does not appreciate what’s happening with missiles, what’s happening with Hezbollah, what’s happening with Yemen,” he added, echoing the current administration’s denunciation of Tehran’s “malign” influence.
Conservative commentators immediately leapt on the act as evidence of “treason,” with some calling for Kerry to go to “prison.”
Asked by a Republican lawmaker during a congressional hearing about the so-called shadow diplomacy, Manisha Singh, an assistant secretary of state, said on Thursday: “It’s unfortunate if people from a past administration would try to compromise the progress we’re trying to make in this administration.”
State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert added: “I’ve seen him brag about the meetings that he has had with the Iranian government and Iranian government officials. I’ve also seen reports that he is apparently providing, according to reports, advice to the Iranian government.
“The best advise that he should be giving the Iranian government is stop supporting terror groups around the world.”
Republican lawmakers are also taking aim at Kerry for his revelation that since leaving office he has met several times with the Iranian foreign minister.
Such meetings, between a private US citizen and foreign officials, are not against the law and not necessarily inappropriate or a violation of federal regulations, but Trump and the GOP contend Kerry is trying to subvert the administration’s hard line on Iran.