Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) is standing by his comparison of Secretary of State John Kerry to Pontius Pilate.
Cotton originally made the comments last week on MSNBC. “So John Kerry acted like Pontius Pilate,” he said. “He washed his hands, kicked it to the IAEA, knowing that Congress would not get this information unless someone went out to find it.”
Last night on CNN, Cotton noted that “for 2,000 years, Pilate has been a parable for someone who washed his hands of his responsibility.”
“And at the end of these negotiations, it appears that John Kerry washed his hands of his responsibility to reach an agreement on all of the critical issues. Two of those critical issues are where Iran tested allegedly detonators for nuclear weapons at a military base and their other past weaponization work,” the senator said.
“Apparently, we couldn’t reach an agreement on the central issues and we kicked it to the IAEA to have these two secret side deals with Iran. We don’t know what is in those deals. We don’t know if it is going to provide adequate inspections and verifications of Iran’s obligations. I don’t see how Congress can go forward without knowing the details of those two central agreements.”
Pressed on whether he tone down the “name-calling,” Cotton refused to amend or retract his statement.
“Secretary Kerry had a responsibility to represent America’s interests and to reach an agreement on every single point. He did not. He apparently washed his hands and kicked it to the IAEA, even though Iran has thwarted the IAEA for years on this very issue,” he said.
Cotton is facing Kerry at this morning’s Senate Armed Services Committee hearing, where Kerry wasn’t on the witness list but showed up uninvited to testify with Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz and Treasury Secretary Jack Lew in tow.
The Arkansas freshman also sits on the Intelligence Committee.
“I can tell you there is virtually no clarity from the administration about these secret side agreements. At first, the existence was secret, but the contents are still secret. There’s been published reports, for instance, just earlier today that we are going to allow Iran to take samples of soil or other environmental elements themselves and send it to the IAEA,” Cotton continued.
“That would be like the NFL letting football players take their own urine samples for drug testing and mail to it Roger Goodell. The American people wouldn’t accept that as a credible system. I don’t see how Congress can accept this as a credible inspection system until we know the exact details that are in those two secret side agreements.”