House Republicans call for review of John Kerry's security clearance

Republicans on the House Oversight Committee responded to a report that Kerry provided Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif information on Israel's operations in Syria, but Kerry has denied this ever happened.

A group of House Republicans is calling for a review of US environmental envoy John Kerry’s security clearance following reports he allegedly told an Iranian diplomat information about Israel’s operations in Syria. 

The issue stems back to last month’s leak of an audiotape of Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif. The New York Times reported April 25 that Zarif said in the recording that Kerry had told him Israel had attacked Iranian assets in Syria at least 200 times. It is unclear when the purported conversation took place. Kerry served as secretary of state from 2013 to 2017 and worked on the 2015 Iran nuclear deal with Zarif. 

Kerry adamantly denied the conversation ever happened, however. Kerry serves on US President Joe Biden’s National Security Council in addition to his environmental role. 

Seventeen House Republican members wrote a letter to Biden on Tuesday in response to the alleged conversation, saying Kerry provided “sensitive information” to Iran. The letter was led by the top Republican on the Committee on Oversight and Reform, James Comer of Kentucky, and was signed by some other members of the committee, which is the main investigative committee in the House. They asked the White House to provide documents related to Kerry’s security clearance, including details on his conversations with foreign nationals. 

“This raises serious concerns about Secretary Kerry’s fitness to serve in his current role with the National Security Council (NSC) and whether these allegations should affect Secretary Kerry’s ability to maintain a security clearance,” read the letter. 

The Republican lawmakers also criticized Kerry’s meetings with Zarif during the Trump administration while Kerry was no longer serving in government. 

State Department spokesman Ned Price said April 26 that he could not speak to the authenticity of what was reported to have been said in a Kerry-Zarif conversation, while adding that the information that was said to have been discussed “was not secret.” 

Syria often reports Israeli airstrikes in its territory, but Israel typically does not comment on its military actions there. Syria usually gives few, if any, details on the targets of suspected Israeli airstrikes.