Rosemary Woods comes to the State Department, doctors press briefing on Iranaccidentally' erased a critical 18 minutes from the tape of a conversation that took place in the President's office? Woods, who passed away in 2005, has apparently come back to life to work in the State Department.
Let's go to the videotape.
Reporter @JamesRosenFNC on the strange disappearance of a State Dept. presser https://t.co/ca5cv5zWd3— Tom Rogan (@TomRtweets) May 9, 2016
The Washington Examiner provides a transcript of what the video originally said.
QUESTION: Please, Jen, can we stay on Iran, please?You mean the Obama-Kerry State Department lied? Well, I'll be darned....
MS. PSAKI: Sure. Let's stay on Iran and then we can go to China.
QUESTION: On the 6th of February in this room, I had a very brief exchange with your predecessor, Victoria Nuland —
MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: — about Iran. And with your indulgence, I will read it in its entirety for the purpose of the record and so you can respond to it.
"Rosen: There have been reports that intermittently, and outside of the formal P5+1 mechanisms, the Obama Administration, or members of it, have conducted direct secret bilateral talks with Iran. Is that true or false?"
"Nuland: We have made clear, as the Vice President did at Munich, that in the context of the larger P5+1 framework, we would be prepared to talk to Iran bilaterally. But with regard to the kind of thing that you're talking about on a government-to-government level, no."
That's the entirety of the exchange.
As we now know, senior state department officials had, in fact, been conducting direct, secret bilateral talks with senior officials of the Iranian Government in Oman, perhaps dating back to 2011 by that point.
So the question today is a simple one: When the briefer was asked about those talks and flatly denied them from the podium, that was untrue, correct?
MS. PSAKI: I mean, James, I – that – you're talking about a February briefing, so 10 months ago. I don't think we've outlined or confirmed contacts or specifics beyond a March meeting. I'm not going to confirm others beyond that at this point. So I don't know that I have any more for you.
QUESTION: Do you stand by the accuracy of what Ms. Nuland told me, that there had been no government-to-government contacts, no secret direct bilateral talks with Iran as of the date of that briefing, February 6th? Do you stand by the accuracy of that?
MS. PSAKI: James, I have no new information for you today on the timing of when there were any discussions with any Iranian officials.
QUESTION: Let me try it one last way, Jen —
MS. PSAKI: Okay.
QUESTION: — and I appreciate your indulgence.
MS. PSAKI: Sure.
QUESTION: Is it the policy of the State Department, where the preservation or the secrecy of secret negotiations is concerned, to lie in order to achieve that goal?
MS. PSAKI: James, I think there are times where diplomacy needs privacy in order to progress. This is a good example of that. Obviously, we have made clear and laid out a number of details in recent weeks about discussions and about a bilateral channel that fed into the P5+1 negotiations, and we've answered questions on it, we've confirmed details. We're happy to continue to do that, but clearly, this was an important component leading up to the agreement that was reached a week ago.
QUESTION: Since you, standing at that podium last week, did confirm that there were such talks, at least as far back as March of this year, I don't see what would prohibit you from addressing directly this question: Were there secret direct bilateral talks between the United States and Iranian officials in 2011?
MS. PSAKI: I don't have anything more for you today. We've long had ways to speak with the Iranians through a range of channels, some of which you talked – you mentioned, but I don't have any other specifics for you today.
QUESTION: One more on Iran?
QUESTION: The Los Angeles Times and Politico have reported that those talks were held as far back as 2011. Were those reports inaccurate?
MS. PSAKI: I'm not sure which reports you're talking about. Are you talking about visits that the Secretary and others made to Oman, or are you talking about other reports?
QUESTION: I'm talking about U.S. officials meeting directly and secretly with Iranian officials in Oman as far back as 2011. The Los Angeles Times and Politico have reported those meetings. Were those reports inaccurate?
MS. PSAKI: I have nothing more for you on it, James, today.