Republicans on Thursday called on President Biden to launch an investigation into allegations that climate envoy John Kerry released sensitive information to Iran while serving as Secretary of State under Barak Obama.
In a letter to the president, the group of 19 GOP senators called for Kerry’s immediate removal from the administration’s National Security Council while the investigation is conducted.
Kerry was accused earlier this week of informing a top Iranian diplomat of at least 200 Israeli-backed airstrikes on Iranian targets during his time as Secretary of State.
The claim about Kerry surfaced in an audio recording of Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif that was obtained by Iran International, a Persian news channel, which then shared the recording with The New York Times.
Kerry has denied the allegations, and Secretary of State Anthony Blinken called the claims “utter nonsense.”
But Senate Republicans in Thursday’s letter accused Biden’s climate envoy of “a long history of employing transactional diplomacy against the best interests of the United States or our allies.”
The letter did not expand on the other allegations of abuse referenced by the senators, but a spokesman for Sen. Dan Sullivan, R-Ark., a signatory of the letter, pointed to a speech the senator made Monday, highlighting “a deal John Kerry cut with China.”
Sullivan called Kerry’s alleged interference with Navy “freedom of navigation operations” in the South China Seas in exchange for China’s commitment to climate-based agreements “treacherous if not treasonous.”
And the GOP senators said Kerry’s diplomatic actions “ultimately endangered our allies and emboldened our adversaries.”
“Revealing sensitive information, whether deliberately or not, about one of our most important and enduring allies in the region…is reason alone to remove Secretary Kerry from your administration,” the group wrote to Biden.
The allegations against Kerry come as the U.S. and Iran are in indirect talks to re-establish the 2015 Iran nuclear deal that Donald Trump abandoned in 2018.
The Biden administration has made reentering the agreement a cornerstone of its geopolitical agenda, but Israel has condemned the move.
Israeli security officials have claimed that removing sanctions in exchange for a nuclear nonproliferation agreement will only better finance Iran and enable it to covertly develop its nuclear program.
But not all Republicans on the Hill have backed the calls for Kerry’s removal from office.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., questioned the validity of the recording, telling Politico, “I don’t know if we should trust that tape or not. If it’s true, it’s very damaging.
“But let’s wait and see how authentic this is,” he added.
The group of GOP senators also noted the uncertainty surrounding the legitimacy of the leaked audio, concluding in their letter that, “If proven false, this narrative is further proof that Iranian officials are dishonest brokers.”
Fox News could not immediately reach the White House for comment.