A Boston Globe report came out Friday evening that former Secretary of State John Kerry has recently met with an Iranian official in order to save President Obama’s signature Iran nuclear deal. This raises serious concerns that Kerry violated the Logan Act by meeting with a foreign official.
From 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."
If the report is accurate, Kerry could have violated the Logan Act. The Logan Act, officially known as 18 U.S.C. §953, is "an old but rarely-invoked federal statute prohibiting unauthorized private diplomacy with foreign nations," according to the Federalist Society blog.
The Logan Act reads: "Any citizen of the United States, wherever he may be, who, without authority of the United States, directly or indirectly commences or carries on any correspondence or intercourse with any foreign government or any officer or agent thereof, with intent to influence the measures or conduct of any foreign government or of any officer or agent thereof, in relation to any disputes or controversies with the United States, or to defeat the measures of the United States, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both."
This potential crime was not missed by conservatives on Twitter.
Kerry making quiet play to save Iran deal with foreign leaders: report. I'm waiting for the Left to scream treason and for Sally Yates to invoke the Logan Act and demand a criminal investigation. https://t.co/uxsfwIFTHA— Tom Fitton (@TomFitton) May 4, 2018
#BREAKING: John Kerry has secretly met with a top-ranking Iranian official multiple times to try to save the Iran deal & to look for ways to "apply pressure on the Trump admin from the outside." - Boston Globe— Ryan Saavedra ???? (@RealSaavedra) May 4, 2018
Democrats are literally working with America's enemies to stop Trump.
Hey @SallyQYates. Remember that Logan Act you were so worried about? You were concerned about incoming NSA Mike Flynn talking to the Russians about sanctions. Here's out-of-office John Kerry talking to everyone in Europe about sanctions. https://t.co/WMObNKp5pr via @BostonGlobe— Joel B. Pollak (@joelpollak) May 4, 2018
If the Globe's reporting is accurate, Kerry may have violated the three key elements of the act. Again as noted by the Federalist Society, those elements are "(1)Communicating with a foreign government; (2) without authority of the United States; (3) for the purpose of influencing the actions of the foreign government in relation to a dispute with the United States or of defeating U.S. policy."
Still, some policy experts claim that since the Iran deal is still U.S. policy, it might not have been a violation of the act since it is still technically a "measure of the United States.
"The act only applies to conduct that is designed to ‘defeat the measures of the United States’ or influence the conduct of foreign governments,” (Professor) Vladeck said. “If all Kerry is doing is working to keep in place something that’s still technically a ‘measure of the United States,’ I don’t see how the statute would apply even if someone was crazy enough to try it.”
Townhall will have more coverage as details come in.
This article was updated.