After being exposed, Democratic Senator Chris Murphy has confirmed that he has had secret meetings with Iran’s foreign minister Javad Zarif.
It was first reported by the Federalist on Monday that Murphy, along with other Democratic senators held a “secret” meeting with Zarif last week at the annual Munich Security conference.
The news spread rapidly like a firestorm as concerns over Murphy’s intentions grew.
Tuesday morning, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo commented on the reports, seeming to scold Murphy and his Democratic colleagues for meeting with Zarif, who, Pompeo pointed out, is “the foreign minister of a country that killed an American on December 27” and “is the largest world sponsor of terror and the world’s largest sponsor of anti-Semitism.”
“If they met, I don’t know what they said. I hope they were reinforcing America’s foreign policy and not their own,” Pompeo added.
Murphy confirmed the report via Twitter that he and other Democrats met with Zarif, but it remains unclear who those other Democrats are.
Murphy claimed he told Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif that Congress is also responsible for setting U.S. foreign policy.
“Many of us have met w Zarif over the years, under Obama and Trump,” Murphy tweeted. “So though no one in Congress can negotiate with Zarif or carry official U.S. government messages, there is value in having a dialogue.”
Murphy added that “it’s dangerous not to talk to adversaries.”
According to his tweets, Murphy also urged Zarif to control any proxies that might attack U.S. forces, as well as release American citizens unlawfully detained in the nation.
In a Medium post, Murphy expanded on his meeting and made a rather confusing attempt to belittle the potential impact that may come from his hush hush meetings with Zarif.
“I don’t know whether my visit with Zarif will make a difference. I’m not the President or the Secretary of State — I’m just a rank and file U.S. Senator. I cannot conduct diplomacy on behalf of the whole of the U.S. government, and I don’t pretend to be in a position to do so,” Murphy wrote.
“But if Trump isn’t going to talk to Iran, then someone should. And Congress is a co-equal branch of government, responsible along with the Executive for setting foreign policy. A lack of dialogue leaves nations guessing about their enemy’s intentions, and guessing wrong can lead to catastrophic mistakes.”
Murphy’s chamber recently voted on a war powers resolution aimed at reining in Trump’s actions against Iran. The resolution received a majority vote but ultimately failed to garner the two-thirds majority needed to overcome Trump’s veto.
The meeting came as the Trump administration seeks to increasingly isolate Iran through the re-imposition of sanctions under its “maximum pressure campaign” on the Islamic republic.
Murphy has been a harsh critic of the Trump administration’s policy toward Iran and said the Medium post that he had raised the U.S. airstrike that killed a top Iranian general in Iraq and apparently told Zarif that despite differences, Congress and the administration are united in sending a message that any Iran-backed attack on American troops in Iraq would be “an unacceptable escalation.”