Several Democrat senators, including Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut, held a secret meeting with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif during the Munich Security Conference last week, the Federalist’s Mollie Hemingway reported in an exclusive on Monday.
According to Hemingway, her high level source was briefed about the meeting by the French delegation to the conference.
The State Department was not aware of any side meetings with Iranian officials during the three-day confab, a State Department official told the Federalist.
Such a meeting, as Hemingway points out, would suggest that Murphy secretly coordinated with the leader of a foreign adversary to undermine the U.S. government—which is something he has repeatedly accused Trump officials of doing.
In February 2017, Murphy demanded investigations of National Security Adviser Mike Flynn because he had a phone call with his counterpart-to-be in Russia.
“Any effort to undermine our nation’s foreign policy – even during a transition period – may be illegal and must be taken seriously,” Murphy said in 2017 after anonymous leaks of Flynn’s phone call with Russian ambassador Sergey Kisylak were published. He also strongly criticized the open letter some Republican senators sent Iranian leaders during the Obama administration’s campaign for a nuclear agreement.
However, Murphy has previously defended rogue meetings if they’re done by Democrats such as former Secretary of State John Kerry.
A former State Department adviser told the Federalist that an unauthorized meeting with the Iranians sends “mixed signals,” calling it “very unpalatable.”
“Unless it was authorized by the president or secretary of state, conducting independent foreign policy sends mixed signals to our adversaries,” said Christian Whiton, a former senior adviser in the Trump and George W. Bush administrations. “It seems very unpalatable. If we want to talk to Iranians, they know how to reach us and they don’t need to go through an intermediary.”
The Munich Security Conference, an annual forum on international security policy, welcomes hundreds of world leaders each February. This year’s conference featured robust debate on the United States’ maximum pressure policy against Iran, China’s handling of the coronavirus and technology concerns, and the European alliance with the United States. Other Democrat senators at the conference included Sens. Robert Menendez of New Jersey and Chris Van Hollen of Maryland. Former Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts also attended.
On February 15, Murphy and Zarif attended a panel discussion with ) Qatar’s Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, Kuwait’s Foreign Minister Sheikh Ahmad Nasser Al-Mohammad Al-Sabah, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, and Oman’s Foreign Minister Yusuf bin Alawi bin Abdullah.
Both Murphy and Zarif “fiercely” criticized U.S. policy during the discussion, according to Hemingway.
Apparently, they weren’t the only ones blasting Trump’s policies, as this year’s conference reportedly revealed that the U.S. and Europe now have “very different” views regarding the health of transatlantic relations. According to Politico, European leaders “in speech after speech” complained about “what they perceive as the U.S.’s disengagement from both the region and the world at large.”
President Trump has overhauled American policy in the Middle East, rejecting former President Obama’s friendly posture toward Iran and ditching the never-ratified nuclear deal.
Last month, Sens. Mike Braun (R-Ind), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), and Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) called on the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate the group as a “foreign agent of the Islamic Republic.”
Sen. Murphy’s office did not respond to either the Federalist’s or American Greatness’ requests for comment on this story.