Former Sen. Joe Lieberman, who served as Democrats’ vice presidential nominee in 2000, blasted the reported meetings between Biden administration officials and Iranian foreign minister Javad Zarif during the Trump administration, calling it “inappropriate.”
Speaking on “Mornings with Maria” on Tuesday, Lieberman argued that the meetings “is the kind of thing that shouldn’t happen.”
A recent report from The Washington Times claimed that Biden administration officials, including John Kerry and Robert Malley, had meetings with Zarif during the Trump administration that were orchestrated to undermine President Biden’s predecessor.
Zarif held meetings with Obama administration veterans who could return to power “to devise a political strategy to undermine the Trump administration” and usher in softer diplomacy between the U.S. and Iran, according to an unnamed former senior U.S. official cited by The Washington Times.
The official was discussing face-to-face meetings between Zarif and influential Democrats in 2017, 2018 and 2019, according to the report.
Kerry is now Biden’s climate envoy, and Malley, who was part of creating the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) regarding Iran’s nuclear capabilities, is Biden’s Iran envoy.
The Washington Times reported that while former President Donald Trump’s attempts to set up a back channel with Iranian officials, meant to defuse tensions, fizzled, Democrats like Malley were meeting with Zarif.
Kerry has been open about the fact that he met with Zarif at least twice during the Trump administration, prompting Trump to say he should be prosecuted under the Logan Act because of the meetings.
“The reality is that it’s not illegal for somebody like John Kerry or Robert Malley to meet with the leaders of a hostile government, Iran, but it runs the risk of misleading them to believe … that they can wait out the current administration if they don’t like what it was doing as they didn’t like what President Trump was doing,” Lieberman said. “So it’s the kind of thing that shouldn’t happen.”
“We have one president at a time and that president earned by election as Joe Biden has now the right to carry out our foreign policy,” he went on to explain.
Fox News’ inquiry to the State Department was not immediately returned.
On Tuesday, Lieberman also weighed in on the Biden administration’s different approach to the Iranian regime. The administration has sought to re-enter the Iran deal. As part of that, the State Department said a letter had been sent to the Council reversing the U.S. position on the snapback.
“I think that this is a perilous time,” Lieberman said. “I think the previous administration carried out exactly the right policy toward Iran.”
He noted that “the Biden administration’s been a bit uncertain here.”
“They’ve said that they want to go back to talks with Iran, but they also want to lengthen the term of the Iran nuclear agreement and strengthen it,” Lieberman said. “That’s encouraging, but the only way you’re ever going to do that is by keeping the economic and military pressure on Iran and I haven’t seen that the Biden administration has done that consistently.”
Lieberman pointed to several examples, including President Biden’s move to give up on a Trump-era push to reimpose United Nations sanctions on Iran, which Republicans, including Rep Joe Wilson, R-S.C., have criticized.
“So I think that sends a bad signal to Iran and they will take advantage of us in doing that,” Lieberman stressed, adding that he believes “with all the uncertainty and instability in the world, the most serious enemy we have that could do us and our allies the most damage is the Islamic Republican of Iran.”
“So we can’t make a mistake on this one,” he continued. “It’s really important.”
The move by the administration seeking to re-enter the Iran deal is one of a number of moves to reverse Trump-era foreign policy. Biden has re-entered the U.S. in the Paris climate deal and has halted the withdrawal of the U.S. from the World Health Organization (WHO).
Fox News’ Evie Fordham and Adam Shaw contributed to this report.