The weird relationship between Kerry and Jen Psaki and Marie Harf keeps getting weirder. Ever since Kerry became Secretary of State, they’ve been tagging along after him and denying that he said the things that he just said.
As bad as Jay Carney was, he generally didn’t just blatantly deny what Obama had just said had been said. That’s next level Baghdad Bobism.
But it’s weirdly common when it comes to Kerry, Psaki and Harf. There was a major flare up of this during the talk of bombing Syria. Now there’s another flare up of it, as Adam Kredo at the Free Beacon reports.
Lawmakers came out swinging on Thursday afternoon after the State Department issued a blanket denial regarding statements that Secretary of State John Kerry made to members of Congress earlier that morning about the potential need for new sanctions on Iran.
Those are Democratic Congressmen by the way. The State Department’s spokeswomen are calling members of their own party liars.
Kerry was widely reported to have told a group of Jewish lawmakers Thursday morning that the administration is open to a new sanctions bill, as news emerged from Vienna that U.S. negotiators would likely be unable to force concessions from Tehran before the July 20 deadline for nuclear talks.
The administration’s narrative—which has long held that new pressure on Iran is not necessary in order to extract meaningful concessions from Iran—appeared to be in danger of unraveling by mid-Thursday after State Department officials went into damage control mode and vociferously denied that Kerry had made those statements.
State could have tried spinning it a bit, the way they did over Syria, but instead they’re going full Baghdad Bob.
Rep. Eliot Engel (D., N.Y.) proposed in the morning meeting that Congress should pass sanctions legislation that would only take effect if negotiators fail to reach a deal.
“Kerry said, ‘Well that might give us some additional leverage,’” recalled one member of Congress who was in the meeting and spoke to the Washington Free Beacon on background. “When [Kerry] said that, [Rep. Brad] Sherman said, ‘Secretary, that’s huge,’ and the secretary responded, ‘I’m going to check with the White House and see what the admin policy is.’”
And they checked. And the policy is give Iran a big hug and deny everything.
“I think there are times when members of Congress hear and project what they want to hear, but the secretary’s position hasn’t changed, and he certainly made that clear this morning,” Psaki told reporters in response to questions about the apparent policy schism.
But is this really crazy levels of lying or another attempt at positioning Kerry as the pro-Israel member of the administration to make his negotiating job easier?
That’s a somewhat interesting question.
Obama’s relationship with Israel and Jews is toxic. Hillary Clinton has been trying to distance herself from him. But this may be a more conscious game being played out to allow Kerry to fake distance himself as well. Obviously all three share the same anti-Israel politics. But Hillary doesn’t want American Jews thinking of her that way. And Kerry doesn’t want Israelis thinking of him that way.
So maybe this is more of the rogue Kerry that we have been seeing. Or maybe it’s a shell game that lets Kerry gesture pro-Israel while backing Obama to the hilt.