John Kerry, the first special presidential envoy for climate, faced pointed questions from Rep. Brian Mast (R-FL) during a hearing of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Oversight and Accountability.
Kerry, who predicted in 2009 that the “Arctic will be ice-free by 2013,” was appointed by President Biden to oversee an agency that has become marked by secrecy and scantily supported suppositions.
The Daily Caller reported that Mast highlighted the opaque nature of Kerry’s office, particularly concerning the identities of Kerry’s staff.
Mast questioned Kerry on why his office had not responded to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for the identities of Kerry’s staff.
When pressed for information, Kerry provided the names of two deputies but refused to reveal other basic information, citing State Department procedures prohibited him from answering the question.
Mast pressed Kerry for more transparency, noting White House claims that Biden’s administration would be marked by “transparency” and that would “bring transparency and truth back to government.”
Kerry doubled down on his refusal to answer, noting again that State Department procedures prohibited his compliance, though he did not say why.
Mast questioned Kerry:
I would love to know the names of the individuals that actually answer to you, who are the ones that directly answer to you, so we can know a little bit about … your office. Who is your deputy envoy for climate?”
Kerry declined to answer.
“You’re not going to tell us who’s working at your office?” Mast asked.
Kerry replied: “I’m not going to go through them by name because that is not the required process of the State Department.”
“I’m not going to argue about it,” said Mast. “You said you’re not gonna answer; you’re not gonna answer; it’s par for the course. Like I said, there was a FOIA request in 2021, [you] said it wasn’t gonna be answered until 2024, I’m not gonna spend my time arguing about it.”
In a statement with threatening overtones, Mast said, “You said you’re not gonna answer now. I’ll accept it.”
“Mr. Chairman, don’t just cut me off,” Kerry said. “What I’m trying to do is tell you I’m gonna follow the process of the State Department, which is normally followed.”