State Department Defends Kerry Leaving NATO Summit to See 'Hamilton'

John Kerry at the NATO summit in Warsaw, Poland / AP
July 11, 2016

Secretary of State John Kerry is facing criticism after departing a major NATO summit early in order to watch a showing of the hit Broadway play Hamilton, according to sources familiar with the situation and State Department officials.

Kerry had been attending a major summit of NATO powers in Warsaw, Poland this weekend, but departed early from the powwow, dubbed by a U.S. official as "one of the most important political events of the year," so he could attend a final showing of the musical, which has received rave reviews.

Kerry’s early departure drew criticism from some foreign policy observers and prompted the State Department to admit that the secretary had left early for the showing, as well as a wedding ceremony.

"The Secretary returned from the NATO summit early Saturday morning to attend the wedding Saturday of one of his closest friends," State Department Spokesman John Kirby told the Free Beacon in response to questions.

"Saturday evening, the Secretary attended a performance of the Broadway show Hamilton," Kirby said. "He paid full face value, out-of-pocket, for four tickets and was joined by his daughter, her husband, and one staff member."

Many celebrities attended the showing, prompting criticism from at least one former U.S. official.

"Priorities … John Kerry left the NATO summit early so he could hang out w/Jane Fonda, JLO, & Charlie Rose," tweeted Michael Doran, a former senior director of the White House’s National Security Council.

Kerry also posed for pictures with fans during the play, according to photos posted on Twitter.

Sources say that State Department reporters were recalled early to fly back to the United States on Kerry’s plane. The Secretary of State was dropped off in Boston to attend the wedding and later the play.