After hearing news first reported by The Federalist that Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy privately met with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif on Tuesday, President Donald Trump said the meeting sounds like a violation of the Logan Act.
“I saw that Sen. Murphy met with the Iranians. Is that a fact? I just saw that on the way over,” Trump said to a group of reporters at Joint Base Andrews-Naval Air Facility. “That sounds like to me a violation of the Logan Act.”
President Trump: "I saw that…Senator Murphy met with the Iranians; is that a fact? I just saw that on the way over. Is there anything that I should know? Because that sounds like to me a violation of the Logan Act." pic.twitter.com/qOEwDaRptR
— CSPAN (@cspan) February 18, 2020
The Logan Act is a federal law passed in 1799 that prohibits American citizens from negotiating with foreign powers. Murphy previously called for the Department of Justice to investigate former national security adviser Michael Flynn for violating the Logan Act in 2017.
“Any effort to undermine our nation’s foreign policy, even during a transition period, may be illegal and must be taken seriously,” he said following anonymous leaks of a phone call Flynn had with a Russian ambassador, Sergey Kislyak.
Murphy also previously defended other unofficial, shadow diplomacy by Democrats such as former Secretary of State John Kerry, who met with high-level Iranian officials in 2018.
Murphy admitted Tuesday morning in a Medium post that he met with Zarif on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference last week. In the post, he described Iran as “our adversary, responsible for the killing of thousands of Americans.”
While participating in a panel discussion at the Munich conference, Murphy stressed that he was “not here to be a defender of the [Trump] administration’s policy in the Middle East.”
“He’s a critic,” interjected the panel moderator. “I would be characterized as a – as a critic,” the Democratic senator agreed.