Ouch: this one's going to leave a mark. Arkansas Republican Senator Tom Cotton has said that "John Kerry acted like Pontius Pilate, he washed his hands" on crucial issues in the Iran deal and left it to the IAEA to negotiate secret side deals with Iran on them.
Cotton made his remarks on today's Morning Joe. It might be a mark of the regard, or lack thereof, in which Kerry is held that no one on the panel rose to his defense. Harold Ford, Jr. was given the floor immediately after Cotton spoke, and blithely inquired only if Kerry would be asked about these issues in his Senate testimony. A bit later in the show, Dem Sen. Tim Kaine appeared. Kaine presumably either watched or was briefed on Cotton's statement, but made not a peep to push back on the Pontius Pilate analogy.
Kudos to Willie Geist for posing the probing question that led to Cotton's cutting comment.
WILLIE GEIST: Senator Cotton, it's Willie Geist. I'm wondering how and why these side deals would have been made in the context of this long international negotiation where you had the P-5+1 sitting down led by the United States. How could there then be another negotiation going on on the side? And if it was, why didn't we stop it or did we even know about it?
TOM COTTON: Well, that's a very good question, Willie. These are two of the most important questions in these negotiations. Iran had almost four years to reveal the past military work they've done on their nuclear program. Again, the Parchin military site is where they've tested detonators for nuclear weapons. Now, this may have been a firm line that Iran would not draw, and the United States negotiating team was simply refusing to draw their own line or to walk away from the deal. So John Kerry acted like Pontius Pilate. He washed his hands, kicked it to the IAEA, knowing that congress would not get this information unless someone went out to find it.