Biden climate czar John Kerry again categorically denied giving Iran foreign minister Javad Zarif information on U.S. operations in Syria, albeit with some deflection and hemming and hawing.
"Uh, right now, I don't have a relationship with foreign minister," Kerry began when Rep. Scott Perry, R-Pa., pressed the former secretary of state on his past relationship with Zarif during testimony Wednesday before the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
Perry reminded Kerry the question was not about now, but before, amid reports Zarif boasted Kerry had warned him about Israeli operations in Syria.
"I would characterize it as professional," Kerry said, when redirected by Perry to expound on his past relationship.
Then, Perry pointedly asked: "Mr. Secretary, the foreign minister, claimed that you had discussed more than 200 israeli operations against Iranian-backed terrorists in Syria. Did you provide information to Mr. Zarif on Israeli operations against Iranian-backed terrorists during or following your tenure as secretary of state?"
"On no occasion – never," Kerry responded.
"Never? So, Mr. Zarif is a liar?" Perry asked.
Kerry suggested Zarif was overstating their dealings and then pivoted to refute the detail of 200 operations without ever having been asked about the number.
"Mr. Zarif may be confused or incorrect or he's trying to embellish his . . .," Kerry said, tailing off. "What I read about that article said that he was portraying himself as out of the loop, and quite emotional apparently, is what I read. And I've seen him be quite emotional and I can't vouch for why he did it, what he said. I'm just telling you that didn't happen. End of story."
Perry pressed Kerry to acknowledge, since 1979, Iran is responsible for killing more Americans than any other nation state.
"I've heard that," Kerry said.
Kerry continued to pivot to details of the 200 number of operations, under Perry's aggressive questioning.
"The first time ever heard this number 200 figure was when I read the article a few days ago," Kerry said, again without being prompted. "I've never heard that."
Perry pointed to reported Kerry remarks during the Trump administration, telling the "Palestinian Authority to hold on an be strong, pray for time, and do not yield to the president's demands. "
"I didn't discuss ...," Kerry responded, pausing again to pivot to the 200 number. "I didn't even know about this number, as I said, until we've read the article the other day."
Perry shot back, "I'm not asking about the number."
"No, I didn't have a discussion with him about Israel with respects to attacks or anything, no," Kerry repeated. "I told you, that's the end of story.
"But let me ... I want to say something about what you just said."
Kerry went on to tell an entirely different story about a Senate trip he paid to Nicaragua during the Reagan administration, entirely unrelated to the Middle East, Israel, Syria, and Iran, before Perry's time expired.
The next Democrat on the clock asked Kerry if he wanted to elaborate on anything Perry discussed, and Kerry declined to say anything further on it.
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