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House GOP launches probe into John Kerry’s secret negotiations with China

House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer (R-Ky.) is demanding that President Biden’s special climate envoy, John Kerry, turn over documents related to secret negotiations with the Chinese Communist Party that the Republican says “undermine the United States’ interests.”

Comer informed the former secretary of state in a letter on Thursday that the House panel will investigate his role in the While House and his talks with Beijing, claiming that Kerry’s office has so far ignored requests for information. 

“In the 117th Congress, we requested information from you regarding your position as special presidential envoy for climate (SPEC) — a cabinet-level position that does not require Senate confirmation despite your apparent ability to bind the United States to international agreements — and SPEC employees’ ties to outside organizations.

“To date, you have failed to respond to any of our requests. Yet, you continue to engage in activities that could undermine our economic health, skirt congressional authority, and threaten foreign policy under the guise of climate advocacy,” Comer added, requesting documents and information on the activities Kerry has undertaken as the SPEC. 

Comer accuses Kerry of crafting “secret agreements with foreign governments” in his role as the 80-year-old president’s climate envoy. 

House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer has asked special presidential climate envoy John Kerry to turn over documents related to negotiations with China.
AP Photo/Markus Schreiber

His letter cites a May 2022 interview with the Associated Press in which Kerry acknowledges working with the Chinese to form a group to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The Kentucky Republican also pointed to Kerry downplaying China’s abysmal record on human rights and the country’s rivalry with the US while engaging in these negotiations. 

“We have other differences on human rights, geostrategic interests, but those differences do not have to get in the way of something that is as critical as dealing with climate,” Kerry told Foreign Policy magazine in a 2021 interview, which Comer highlights in his letter. 

Comer claimed that Kerry's statements show "disregard for American national security and taxpayer dollars."
REUTERS/Leah Millis

“As a member of the President’s cabinet, you should be representing the United States’ interests. Your statements, however, consistently show disregard for American national security and taxpayer dollars,” continued Comer. “Your office continues to ignore requests for information. We are left with an insufficient understanding of your office’s activities, spending, and staffing.”

Comer gave Kerry until Feb. 16 to comply with his panel’s document request, which includes SPEC budgets, a list of people involved in handling budgets, the names, titles, and salaries of everyone currently and previously employed at the SPEC office, and all communications between the office of the SPEC and environmental advocacy groups or foreign government officials.