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Politico: State Department Pressed on Misleading Reporters Over Iran Diplomacy

Politico yesterday reported on a confrontation between State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki and Fox News’s Chief Washington Correspondent James Rosen, in which Rosen pressed Psaki on statements made in February by State’s then-spokesperson Victoria Nuland, in which Nuland was asked about the existence of bilateral talks with Tehran:

With current State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki at the podium, Rosen read from a question he asked then-spokesperson Victoria Nuland in February about reports of “direct, secret bilateral talks with Iran.”

“With regard to the kind of thing you’re talking about on a government-to-government level: no,” Nuland replied.

Rosen pointed Monday to reports that senior U.S. officials, including Deputy Secretary of State Bill Burns and then-Director of Policy Planning Jake Sullivan, held a series of meetings in Oman in recent years with top Iranian officials.

“The question today is a simply one: when the briefer was asked about those talks and flatly denied them, that was untrue, correct?” Rosen asked.

State’s denial has become strained in the aftermath of stories revealing that senior U.S. officials, up to and including Secretary of State Bill Burns, held months of meetings with top Iranian officials. When asked whether she would “stand by the accuracy” by Nuland’s statements, Psaki responded that she had “no new information… today.”

Politico described Rosen as requesting clarification “on the thinking of State Department briefers on whether it would be appropriate to mislead reporters about matters such as sensitive diplomatic negotiations.”

The credibility of administration assurances to lawmakers, allies, and journalists has been questioned in recent weeks, after the White House seemingly abandoned its long-time stance that Iran would be expected to fully suspend its nuclear program under the terms of a comprehensive deal.

[Photo: U.S. Department of State / YouTube]