As President Trump gets close to deciding the future of the 2015 multilateral Iran nuclear deal by his self-imposed May 12 deadline, the Boston Globe dropped a news bombshell over the weekend that former secretary of state John Kerry has engaged in shadow diplomacy, aiming to salvage the Iran nuclear deal Obama’s presidential administration brokered.
According to the Globe, Kerry’s highly unusual shadow diplomatic maneuvers include engaging in multiple meetings with high-level Iranian officials in the last several months. For instance, Kerry met with Iran Foreign Minister Javad Zarif two months ago then again two weeks ago at the United Nations in New York to discuss ways to keep the Iran nuclear deal intact.
Separately, Kerry also met with German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier and French President Emmanuel Macron, and spoke on the phone with European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, the Globe reports. In addition, the paper says, Kerry lobbied members of U.S. Congress, including House Speaker Paul Ryan.
John Kerry Goes Rogue on the Elected President
To be clear, no one in the current presidential administration either authorized or asked Kerry to engage such kind of interference. It’s all his own doing. Someone should remind Kerry that he is no longer the U.S. secretary of state. As a private citizen, his reported activities working with foreign officials, especially officials from U.S. adversaries such as Iran, to potentially undermine the current administration is treasonous and likely in violation of the Logan Act:
Private correspondence with foreign governments
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.
Let’s not forget that President Trump’s former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, got into legal trouble for negotiations at the United Nations over a resolution with Israel, a U.S. ally, while working for a legitimately elected Trump during the presidential transition period. Flynn was accused of violating the Logan Act. No one in the United States had ever before been officially charged with violating the Logan Act since its birth more than 200 years ago. Thus, Flynn eventually pled guilty instead for lying to the FBI.
If the Boston Globe’s report is true, Kerry’s behavior seems to meet the defined prosecutorial scope of the Logan Act. Harvard Law School Professor Emeritus Alan Dershowitz said on Fox News over the weekend that Kerry is lucky no one has been prosecuted under the Logan Act, or else he could be in trouble. Still, Dershowitz pointed out that there are real problems with Kerry negotiating with foreign government officials while he has no legal authorization to do so as a representative of the United States.
The Iran Deal Should Be Junked
Kerry and his former boss, former President Obama, handed the American people and the rest of the world a bad deal in 2015. The Iran nuclear deal does not require Iran to submit to “anytime, anywhere” International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspections of facilities and military sites where nuclear activities are suspected to have occurred.
Its sunset provisions mean restrictions on Iran’s uranium-enrichment and plutonium reprocessing will be lifted after 10 to 15 years, and Iran is free to expand its nuclear program at that time and produce nuclear weapons. In the meantime, the deal has provided Iran millions of dollars since 2015 that has enabled the mullahs to fund menacing activities to regain and expand their influence in the Middle East.
The foundation of this deal was the Obama administration and European Union’s willful ignorance of and blind trust in the Iranian government. New evidence obtained by amazing intelligence work from Israel indicates Iran maintained a secret plan to build nuclear weapons but repeatedly lied about it. The Trump administration now has more reasons to impose new sanctions on Iran and renegotiate a much better deal.
Kerry tried to downplay Israel’s discovery by tweeting that “Every detail PM Netanyahu presented yesterday was every reason the world came together to apply years of sanctions and negotiate the Iran nuclear agreement – because the threat was real and had to be stopped. It’s working! That’s why Israeli security experts are speaking out.” Such denial is simultaneously laughable and sad given that he was our nation’s highest-ranked diplomat a few years ago.
John Kerry Likes Taking Matters Into His Own Hands
This isn’t the first time Kerry has acted against the U.S. government and U.S. interests as a private citizen. He traveled to Paris in 1970 and met with Viet Cong (Vietnamese communists) negotiators during the Paris peace talk. He was not part of the U.S. government official delegation then, either. Just like now, he simply inserted himself into where he didn’t belong.
When he came back, he delivered Viet Cong’s propaganda during a press conference and in later testimony before the Senate’s Foreign Relations Committee. He blamed the United States for fighting an immoral war as a colonial power and for unreasonably negotiating for not setting a withdrawal date. These were the same talking points Viet Cong negotiators used, but they much more effectively undermined U.S. negotiations when delivered by an American veteran.
Kerry got away with his actions in 1970s, but he shouldn’t get away again in 2018. Even if Kerry won’t be prosecuted under the Logan Act, someone from the current administration should warn him to stop undermining U.S. interests and duly elected representatives of the American people, or face serious consequences.