Former secretary of state Mike Pompeo and Republican foreign policy leaders in Congress are demanding a formal investigation into John Kerry following revelations he informed Iranian leaders about covert Israeli military operations.
A leaked audio recording of Iranian foreign minister Javad Zarif, who worked closely with Kerry when the 2015 nuclear accord was negotiated, catches the Iranian official claiming the former Obama administration secretary of state informed him about at least 200 Israeli strikes on Iranian military positions in Syria. That Kerry shared these intimate details "to his astonishment," according to the New York Times, suggests Kerry may have been disclosing classified information. It would also represent a stunning betrayal of America’s closest Middle East ally. Israel relies on the United States to protect shared intelligence from its top regional enemy.
The revelation is already generating calls for Kerry, the special presidential envoy for climate, to resign from the Biden administration and face a congressional investigation for possibly spilling highly classified secrets to one of America’s leading enemies.
Former Trump administration secretary of state Mike Pompeo said the audio tape proves "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."
"Before we cut a deal with Iran that reduces Americans’ security," Pompeo said, "it would be good to know what the arrangement, if any, may have been between these two leaders."
"John Kerry must resign immediately," Rep. Jim Banks (R., Ind.), a member of the House Armed Services Committee, told the Washington Free Beacon. "The investigation should be retrospective."
"These reports are concerning—I’d like the opportunity to ask Secretary Kerry about this in a closed hearing," Sen. Tom Cotton (R., Ark.), a member of the Senate's Select Committee on Intelligence and its Armed Services Committee, told the Free Beacon.
Rep. Darrel Issa (R., Calif.), a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, echoed calls for an investigation and promised to hold Kerry accountable for the disclosure of sensitive military information.
"While we can’t simply accept as fact what we hear from Iran’s foreign minister (or read in the New York Times), these reports warrant full and immediate investigation," Issa said. "If John Kerry shared our nation’s intelligence with Iran and endangered Israel in any way, I promise he will be held to account."
Banks, who has been leading Republican efforts to prevent the Biden administration from unwinding tough sanctions on Iran as it negotiates a new nuclear deal, further said that any investigation into Kerry’s conversations with Iran should seek to find out if other officials from the Obama and Biden administrations revealed similar information to Tehran.
"We need to know the extent of John Kerry’s duplicity, and we need to find out if other members of the Biden-Obama administration secretly shared confidential information with Iran," Banks said. "These are urgent national security questions. If John Kerry doesn’t resign and isn’t fired, Joe Biden will have sent a clear message to Israel and all our allies: My administration is more loyal to the Democrat Party than to you."
Rep. Michael McCaul (R., Texas), lead Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, demanded the State Department "quickly clarify exactly what happened here."
In a statement, Sen. Ted Cruz (R., Texas) said Kerry "was caught repeatedly meeting with [Zarif] during the Trump administration (notwithstanding the Logan Act)—and has never publicly accounted for what they discussed."
State Department spokesman Ned Price downplayed the issue when pressed by reporters on Monday afternoon, saying he would not speak to leaked audio. The State Department declined to comment further when contacted later in the afternoon by the Free Beacon.
Updated 7:32 p.m. to include a statement from Sen. Cruz.