Is former Secretary of State John Kerry violating the Logan Act?
That question is being asked around political circles after reports emerged that he was conducting secret dealings with European and Middle Eastern leaders in an effort to maintain the Iran nuclear deal.
— Fox News (@FoxNews) May 5, 2018
Per Washington Examiner:
If there is one word to describe the last 14 months in media, it is “collusion.”
Open any newspaper, turn on any news program, and there’s a good chance you’ll see something about the allegations that President Trump (or some member of his inner circle) conspired with Moscow in 2016 to win the election. This particular story line has been in the news cycle since practically day one of the Trump presidency.
On Friday evening, there was yet more talk about an American working covertly with members of a hostile foreign government to undermine official U.S. diplomacy. The difference with this particular story, however, is that it involves neither Trump nor the Russians. It involves former Secretary of State John Kerry and the Iranians.
LOGAN ACT!!!1!!!!1!!!! https://t.co/y6JvLikqdt
— Guy Benson (@guypbenson) May 4, 2018
UNBELIEVABLE! John Kerry has been meeting with foreign diplomats to try and save the Iran deal! This is a violation of the Logan Act and quite frankly TREASON!
— Ryan Fournier (@RyanAFournier) May 4, 2018
Here are the details, via Boston Globe:
John Kerry’s bid to save one of his most significant accomplishments as secretary of state took him to New York on a Sunday afternoon two weeks ago, where, more than a year after he left office, he engaged in some unusual shadow diplomacy with a top-ranking Iranian official.
He sat down at the United Nations with Foreign Minister Javad Zarif to discuss ways of preserving the pact limiting Iran’s nuclear weapons program. It was the second time in about two months that the two had met to strategize over salvaging a deal they spent years negotiating during the Obama administration, according to a person briefed on the meetings.
With the Iran deal facing its gravest threat since it was signed in 2015, Kerry has been on an aggressive yet stealthy mission to preserve it, using his deep lists of contacts gleaned during his time as the top US diplomat to try to apply pressure on the Trump administration from the outside. President Trump, who has consistently criticized the pact and campaigned in 2016 on scuttling it, faces a May 12 deadline to decide whether to continue abiding by its terms.
Kerry also met last month with German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, and he’s been on the phone with top European Union official Federica Mogherini, according to the source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to reveal the private meetings. Kerry has also met with French President Emmanuel Macron in both Paris and New York, conversing over the details of sanctions and regional nuclear threats in both French and English.
“It is unusual for a former secretary of state to engage in foreign policy like this, as an actual diplomat and quasi-negotiator,” said Brookings Institution foreign policy expert Michael O’Hanlon, per the Boston Globe. “Of course, former secretaries of state often remain quite engaged with foreign leaders, as they should, but it’s rarely so issue-specific, especially when they have just left office.”
Meant to ask General Flynn if he thinks we should bring Sally Yates back for the big Logan Act investigation of John Kerry …
— Andrew C. McCarthy (@AndrewCMcCarthy) May 5, 2018
Besides his international engagements, Kerry is also meeting with Democrat members of Congress in an effort to fight against the administration and keep the nuclear deal:
Democratic lawmakers in Congress also have been relatively quiet, and not all share Kerry’s belief that the deal is essential for preventing a nuclear arms race in the volatile region. Kerry has quietly tried to bolster support in Congress. In recent weeks he’s placed dozens of phone calls and, often with Moniz by his side, has lobbied members of Congress, including House Speaker Paul Ryan. While he is not negotiating as he did as secretary of state, he is attempting through quiet advocacy to preserve what he accomplished.
Kerry supporters see in this campaign some of his trademark traits, especially his unflagging energy even in the face of potential failure. Critics see something else, a former office holder working with foreign officials to potentially undermine the policy aims of a current administration.
So does Kerry’s actions constitute a Logan Act violation?
— Annie Linskey (@AnnieLinskey) May 4, 2018
OMG! Logan Act violations!! Send in the G Men… https://t.co/FA1dydJGQb
— Devin Nunes (@DevinNunes) May 4, 2018
If you are a journalist who ever wrote or said anything about Gen. Flynn and the Logan Act, im really excited to see your take on this far more clear and egregious violation of it by Kerry https://t.co/ThPLCuTbNw
— Buck Sexton (@BuckSexton) May 4, 2018
Check this out:
Kerry’s activities could raise questions if they are perceived as a direct effort to counter current administration foreign policy.
The Trump administration got entangled with controversy when Michael Flynn, the incoming national security adviser, tried to undermine Obama policies in the administration’s last few weeks. His actions appeared to some legal experts to violate the Logan Act, an obscure 18th century law meant to crack down on private citizens acting on behalf of the United States during a dispute with foreign governments.
The Logan Act prohibits US citizens from having private correspondence with a foreign government “with intent to influence the measures or conduct of any foreign government . . . in relation to any disputes or controversies with the United States, or to defeat the measures of the United States.”
He’s met privately with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, spoken (in English and French) with Emmanuel Macron, and talked with Paul Ryan. My look at how John Kerry is quietly seeking to salvage Iran deal he helped craft: https://t.co/rJgFbZtthd
— Matt Viser (@mviser) May 4, 2018
— Eli Lake (@EliLake) May 4, 2018
Some people are arguing Kerry’s actions do not violate the Act because the Iran nuclear agreement is still the active policy of the United States. Others however are arguing that – because Trump has expressed he wishes to renegotiate the deal or drop it all together – that Kerry is acting against the will of the U.S. and would qualify as a violation.
John Kerry siding with and strategizing with the world’s largest sponsor of terror groups to undermine his own country’s foreign policy is the most John Kerry thing ever pic.twitter.com/atqHbgIhC2
— Stephen Miller (@redsteeze) May 4, 2018
Please liberals, with a straight face, read this tweet and tell me again how General Mike Flynn was investigated for a Logan Act violation and yet John Kerry isn’t worthy of the same? What a farce @SallyQYates https://t.co/XnCt2Yr9t6
— Dan Bongino (@dbongino) May 5, 2018