MUNICH, Germany—The Trump administration's top Iran envoy is denying online reports that he engaged in a secret meeting on Friday with former Secretary of State John Kerry, who himself has engaged in shadow diplomacy with Iranian officials since leaving his post.
Online reports emerged late Friday alleging that Brian Hook, the State Department's special representative for Iran and a senior adviser to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, took a meeting with Kerry, who has been open about his efforts to help Iranian leaders keep the Obama administration's nuclear deal alive. Kerry has met with senior Iranian officials multiple times since leaving office.
Pictures of Hook in Munich were first posted online by conservative commentator and journalist Mike Cernovich, who claimed his sources told him that "Brian Hook of State was spotted going into a private meeting room with John Kerry and a group of men including security guards that were all speaking Farsi," Iran's native language.
Earlier today, Brian Hook of State was spotted going into a private meeting room with John Kerry and a group of men including security guards that were all speaking Farsi. This is at the Munich security conference. https://t.co/dEAn4Qkf4Y
— Filmmaker Mike Cernovich (@Cernovich) February 15, 2019
Multiple sources who spoke to the Washington Free Beacon about the situation offered up similar details, sparking many questions and comments about why a top Trump administration official would be meeting with Kerry.
Kerry is in Munich along with scores of individuals and officials to discuss pressing global issues, including that of Iran's regional military actions. Iranian Foreign Minister also is in town as a participant in the Munich Security Conference.
When contacted by the Free Beacon early on Saturday, Hook categorically denied that any such meeting took place, calling Cernovich's tweet, as well as comments from sources who spoke to the Free Beacon, "entirely fabricated."
"Just a heads up that I obviously did not meet with John Kerry in Munich," Hook told the Free Beacon by email. "And I would never have any need or reason to meet with him in the future. The tweet is entirely fabricated."
State Department Deputy Spokesman Robert Palladino also described allegations that Hook met with Kerry as bunk.
"Fake news make-believe," Palladino told the Free Beacon.
Hook and Kerry are at policy odds when it comes to Iran, yet another reason the alleged meeting struck international observers as strange. While Kerry enabled the landmark nuclear deal that kept Tehran's nuclear and ballistic missile programs in tact, Hook has pushed the entirely opposite policy and helped to create policies to cripple both of Iran's contested programs.
While some Republican hardliners on Iran have criticized Hook in the past, alleging he might be a so-called "never Trumper" who is not doing enough to cripple Tehran and ensure that Europe abandons the nuclear deal, Hook's credentials and public policy stances paint a disparate picture.
Before assuming his State Department post, Hook worked on Iran sanctions for current White House National Security Adviser John Bolton when he was serving as the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations under former President George W. Bush.
In his current role, Hook has called out the Iranian regime repeatedly for its ongoing missile procurement, obfuscation of details regarding its nuclear work, and the Iranian regime's support for terrorism. He has publicly pushed on these issues in past interviews with the Free Beacon and numerous other outlets.
The Free Beacon will update this report as further information becomes available.