Sen. Sullivan: If Reports of Leaked Intelligence to Iran Are True, John Kerry Must Resign
“The red line that was crossed, if this is true, revealing secret information to one of America's most sworn enemies, with the blood of thousands of American military members on its hands … John Kerry needs to go.”
WASHINGTON—U.S. Senator Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, today called on John Kerry, U.S. special presidential envoy for climate, to resign if press reports are accurate that the former secretary of state disclosed more than 200 covert attacks by Israel against Iranian interests in Syria. The report comes from an interview with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif that was leaked to Iran International, a Persian television channel, before being shared with the New York Times, which wrote an extensive story on Sunday.
Mr. Sullivan: Madam President, I rise today on the Senate floor to call for the resignation of John Kerry as a member of the Biden Administration's National Security Council. Now, Madam President, I don't do this lightly. As a matter of fact, in my entire time in the Senate, I've never called for anyone's resignation - Obama-Biden administration, Trump administration, Biden administration now. Trust me, I've been tempted, particularly when some in government have tried to hurt my state. A lot of that is going on right now with the Biden administration. But his record, John Kerry's record, of undermining working families and working against American national security interests is too much to bear. He needs to go.
Today, I've heard such disturbing news, Madam President, that, if true, it should absolutely result in John Kerry either being fired or resigning. Enough is enough. Why am I saying this? Madam President, first, he's killing jobs. Arrogantly killing American jobs. That's a fact. He's putting hard-working Americans, particularly in the energy sector, the great men and women who make our country strong, by developing oil and gas resources, a lot of my constituents, in the name of climate goals, he's putting them out of work.
He's going to Wall Street saying don't finance these projects anymore. That's what reporters are saying. On these issues, I completely and adamantly disagree with the arrogant way, frankly, the callous way he talks about people needing to move on to better jobs. But, for this issue alone, I wouldn't be calling for his resignation.
This is a major difference in the Biden administration's policies and priorities with regard to the American people. I think it's going to really come back and hit this administration hard because the vast majority of Americans don't agree with putting people out of work, energy workers out of work, during a recession and a pandemic. But that's going to be decided in the voting booth, in the elections. The American people will ultimately decide on whether arrogantly putting thousands and thousands of energy workers out of work right now is a good idea in the name of these climate goals.
He's also been a strong appeaser of countries that threaten ours. Let me take you back to 2015. I was a brand-new U.S. Senator. President Obama, President Xi Jinping are meeting in the Rose Garden. President Xi, of China, tells the President of the United States and the American people, “No, we're not going to militarize the South China Sea. We won’t do it.” Of course, the Chinese Communist Party was not telling the truth to the President of the United States and the American people. They started to do this already, militarizing one of the most important sea routes in the world.
Many of us here in the Senate, Democrats and Republicans, said we need to stand up for our interests. We need the U.S. Navy to do freedom of navigation operations. The Secretary of Defense wanted to do this. The admiral in charge of the INDOPACOM area of responsibility wanted to do this. But we now know, in principals meetings, we delayed doing this for almost three years because John Kerry said we don't want to get the Chinese mad or they'll go back on their Paris climate deal and commitments, which, by the way, are way out in the future. This is true. This is true. This happened. And, again, in my view, this bordered on treacherous if not treasonous.
I didn't call for his resignation then. I certainly was mad about it. By the way, a lot of people in the Obama administration were mad about this, including the secretary of defense. We lost a lot of time. It certainly makes me nervous that John Kerry is out in Beijing again. What kind of deal did he cut this time with China, the Communist Party of China who won't keep any commitments? But, again, that wasn't a call for resignation.
Madam President, the straw that broke the camel's back came out today, and it's the reason I'm up here calling for John Kerry to resign. It is a tape that was leaked of an interview with Iran's foreign minister, Mohammad Zarif. First, some background. Zarif was being interviewed by an economist and journalist who is an advisor to Mohammad Khatami, the pro-reform cleric who served two terms as Iran's president. An edited version of this interview was intended to be made public only after Iran's president left office in August, but it was leaked.
Zarif, according to reports, says many interesting and telling things in the tape. One, for example, that, in my view, the rightful killing of General Soleimani, the Quds Force commander, in January of 2020, when he was in Iraq looking to kill more American soldiers, Zarif said this “was a major blow to Iran, more damaging than if it had wiped out an entire city in an attack.” That's what a lot of us were arguing at the time and that, unlike what John Kerry has been telling the public, when negotiating the Iran nuclear deal in the Obama administration, it is the Revolutionary Guard Corps, the Quds Force, not Zarif, who calls the shots in Iran. That's all on the tapes.
But, Madam President, the most disturbing part of the interview that was leaked was when Zarif said that John Kerry told him, the Iranian foreign minister, about covert Israeli actions against Iranian interests in Syria. Now, think about that. According to news reports, Zarif is heard saying, “It was former U.S. Foreign Secretary John Kerry who told me Israel had launched more than 200 attacks on Iranian forces in Syria.” That's Zarif saying John Kerry told him that. Classified information about one of our most important allies in the world - Israel. Zarif said, “He listened to this information from Secretary Kerry in astonishment.”
Now, Madam President, when I read this today, I was astonished as well that a former secretary of state, now a member of President Biden's National Security Council - wasn't confirmed for that, by the way, by this body - would reveal the secrets of one of our most important and enduring allies in the region to an avowed enemy, the largest state sponsor of terrorism, a country that was responsible for the killing and wounding and maiming of thousands of American service men and women, whose leaders have the blood of American soldiers on its hands. He's telling them that information.
Madam President, it's unclear why John Kerry would relay such information to the leaders of the largest state sponsor of terrorism in the world, but here's a guess. During the Trump administration, after that administration pulled out of the JCPOA, the Iran nuclear deal, which John Kerry negotiated and, by the way, the bipartisan majority of U.S. senators in this body were against, were against that deal, John Kerry started to freelance. He admitted to meeting with Zarif in 2018 to try to salvage the nuclear deal. In other words, he was likely acting and working against the previous administration, the elected administration of the Trump administration, and many of us here in Congress who applauded when we pulled out of the JCPOA. Madam President, I'd like to submit for the record an article written today by the National Review titled, “John Kerry, Enemy of Israel.”
The beginning of this article says, “Let's pause to reflect on how monumentally stunning it is that the former U.S. secretary of state allegedly tattled on Israel to Iran.” It goes on to say “a high-ranking American official would feel comfortable sharing this kind of classified information with an autocratic adversary, a government that's murdered hundreds of Americans, regularly kidnapped them, interfered with our elections, and propped up a regime that gases its people, about the covert actions of a longtime critical American ally.”
“What else did Kerry tell Zarif?” this article asks. Press reports don't say, but, Madam President, if this is true, if John Kerry told the leaders of Iran about issues relating to our most critical ally in the region, Israel, who Iran has repeatedly said they want to wipe off the face of the Earth, if he did this, he needs to resign. If he did this with the intent of undermining the current President of the United States, at the time President Trump, and the members of this body, he needs to resign.
Madam President, he is a member of the current administration's National Security Council. It's become clear, Madam President, that our adversaries, whether Beijing or Iran, like it when John Kerry is in charge of foreign policy and national security. Why? Because they know how to use him to their advantage. And our allies fear him. Why? Because they know his judgment is off on so many issues. So, too, do America's working families.
We need to look into this. If this is true - if this is true, I certainly hope other members of this body, Democrats and Republicans, will join me in calling for the resignation of John Kerry. Enough is enough. The red line that was crossed, if this is true, revealing secret information to one of America's most sworn enemies, with the blood of thousands of American military members on its hands, undermining the interests of one of our most important allies, the state of Israel, if this is true, John Kerry needs to go. He should resign or he should get fired by the President of the United States.
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