Sources Close to John Kerry Deny Jerusalem Post Report

They say he did not suggest he was running for president or try to disrupt the peace process.

So, there’s been some news about John Kerry this week.

If a scandalous report—which came from the Israeli outlet Maariv and was published in the English-language Jerusalem Postis to be believed (and that’s a big if), the former Secretary of State had a hell of a conversation in London.

For one, he allegedly told the academic Hussein Agha that he is “seriously considering” running for president in 2020, touching off another round of speculation about whether the 2004 presidential nominee, 74, would be too old for the role.

On top of that, the report says Kerry sent a message through Agha to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas advising him not to cooperate with Trump on a peace deal. Abbas “should stay strong,” and “not yield to President Trump’s demands,” he reportedly told the academic, adding that he believed Trump would no longer be in office by the end of the year. The paper, which doesn’t name a source, reported that the conversation between the two men happened in London at an unspecified date.

Critics and right-wing media have seized on the story as proof Kerry is working to undermine the Trump administration. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said on Fox he would be “surprised” if Kerry had said such things, which he described as “stunningly unpatriotic.”

So is any of it true? Could John Kerry really have done such a thing?

He has so far not commented publicly about it. But allies of the former Secretary say it’s nonsense. “The story is simply wrong,” a source close to him said Thursday. “Those aren’t Secretary Kerry’s views or positions on the Middle East peace process, nor would anyone in their right mind send political trial balloons through foreign emissaries.” Agha has also denied that such a discussion took place, according to a source close to him.

As for the 2020 forecasting, it isn’t the first time speculation about Kerry’s aspirations for another shot at the White House have surfaced. “I don’t have any plans right now,” he said on MSNBC in September of last year, which lent credence to the theory that he wasn’t ruling it out. Earlier, he told the Boston Globe during his last days at the State Department in late 2016 that he had considered running in that year’s race “for a minute or two” before he ultimately “dismissed the idea.”

He has focused his post-government life on environmental issues, including a January speech at MIT on climate change. He lives in a brownstone in Beacon Hill, but is currently abroad.