President Trump said Thursday that former Secretary of State John Kerry “should be prosecuted” for violating the Logan Act by speaking with Iran.
“What I’d like to see with Iran, I’d like to see them call me,” Trump told reporters at the White House. “John Kerry speaks to them a lot. John Kerry tells them not to call. That’s a violation of the Logan Act, and frankly, he should be prosecuted on that.”
“But my people don't want to do anything,” he continued. “Only the Democrats do that kind of stuff. If it were the opposite way, they’d prosecute him under the Logan Act. But John Kerry violated the Logan Act. He’s talking to Iran and ... has many meetings and many phone calls and he’s telling them what to do. That is a total violation of the Logan Act.”
The 220-year-old federal law criminalizes negotiating with foreign governments by unauthorized persons. No one has been convicted of violating it.
Trump last month asserted via Twitter that Kerry was violating the law: “Iran is being given VERY BAD advice by @JohnKerry and people who helped him lead the U.S. into the very bad Iran Nuclear Deal. Big violation of Logan Act?”
Saudi Arabia and others in OPEC will more than make up the Oil Flow difference in our now Full Sanctions on Iranian Oil. Iran is being given VERY BAD advice by @JohnKerry and people who helped him lead the U.S. into the very bad Iran Nuclear Deal. Big violation of Logan Act?
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 22, 2019
Kerry, who served as secretary of State under President Obama, helped deliver the 2015 Iran deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which restricted Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for relief from sanctions.
In 2018, Trump pulled the U.S. out of the deal and has since re-imposed sanctions on Iran. Subsequently, Kerry admitted to meeting with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif “three or four times” to discuss ways to save the landmark nuclear deal.
“Everything President Trump said today is simply wrong, end of story,” Kerry’s spokesperson responded in a statement. “He’s wrong about the facts, wrong about the law and sadly, he’s been wrong about how to use diplomacy to keep America safe. Secretary Kerry helped negotiate a nuclear agreement that helped to solve an intractable problem. The world supported it then, supports it now. We’d hope the president would focus on solving foreign policy problems for America rather than attacking his predecessors for theater.”
Tensions between the U.S. and Iran have continued to grow in the past few weeks. In April, Trump labeled the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps a terrorist group, and earlier this week Iran vowed to stop complying with parts of the deal. Shortly after, the White House issued new sanctions on Iran’s metals industries, which account for about 10 percent of its exports.
On Sunday, Trump’s national security adviser John Bolton announced the deployment of a bomber task force and carrier strike group to the Middle East to send a “clear and unmistakable message" to Iran not to make “any attack on United States interests or those of our allies.”
Trump, acknowledging the risk of military confrontation, said he was prompted to send an aircraft carrier to Iran because “they were threatening and we have information that you don’t want to know about.”
“Their economy is a mess ever since I took away the Iran deal,” Trump said. “They have inflation that's the highest number I’ve ever heard. They’re having riots every weekend and during the week even. What they should be doing is calling me up, sitting down, we can make a deal, a fair deal.
“And we would help put them back into great shape,” he added.
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