When does a gross indiscretion, aimed at undermining President Trump through private negotiations with a sworn enemy of America, become something bigger? Former Secretary of State John Kerry, deep into his months-long “shadow diplomacy” with Iran, is testing the point.
Truth is, the antiquated Logan Act – which bars exactly that sort of extra-legal, unofficial and patently officious and offensive behavior – has never been enforced, although referenced as late as 1991 by the Supreme Court.
That does not make Kerry’s behavior acceptable, patriotic or defensible. In fact, at a time when everyone from President Trump to America’s national security team are working overtime to warn Iran against counting on that faux nuclear deal, Kerry’s actions – not for the first time – are quite unforgivable.
Irony on irony, Kerry’s “stealthy” anti-Trump diplomacy comes on the heels of the Democratic Party’s aggressive 2017 attempts to call a single conversation between incoming Trump National Security Advisor Michael Flynn and the Russian Ambassador a Logan Act violation.
One could even argue that, in a cascade of politically-motivated Logan Act attacks, illegal unmasking of Flynn by the Obama White House (for which no one was held accountable), FBI interviews that left interviewers divided on Flynn’s intent, and Flynn’s own bad judgement, Mr. Mueller got his biggest one-count guilty plea.
Assuming Mr. Kerry is not authorized to embolden the Iranians and Europeans with false hope, then he is in express violation of the Logan Act. Unlike the Flynn case, there is little ambiguity here. The violation is textbook.
Somehow, what John Kerry is now doing – trying to create a parallel understanding with a hostile foreign nation – is far more serious than anything Mike Flynn did in the days before becoming National Security Advisor to Trump.
This is a brazen attempt to privately negotiate – and assist a foreign government in confounding – U.S. foreign policy and national security. Whatever the reader thinks of this president, deliberately undermining a sitting president in this way is inexcusable.
Think about it for a moment. What we are now witnessing is a second former Secretary of State and Democratic presidential nominee openly aiming to reverse the results of the 2016 presidential election.
Hillary Clinton paid for opposition research that was funneled through partisan FBI leadership to a blind-sided FISA court permitting the government to spy on a member of the Trump campaign – eventually triggering the Comey leaks and the appointment of a special counsel.
Kerry is negotiating foreign policy.
The audacity of this bitter, anti-President Trump crowd is just breathtaking. One wonders when they will simply show up at the White House and just ask for the Oval back. By rights, they think it is theirs.
As Fox News reported, Kerry is actively engaged in “shadow diplomacy” in an attempt to preserve the Iran nuclear deal, to which he feels attached.
Specifically, “Kerry sat down twice with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif in recent months to strategize in a bid to save the deal, as part of what the Globe described as ‘an aggressive yet stealthy’ mission to put pressure on the Trump administration …”
Now, with President Trump facing a May 12 deadline to review the Iran deal, “Kerry has been ramping up his meetings ahead of that deadline,” and “reportedly met with German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier -- who was foreign minister of Germany when the deal was negotiated,” as well as “French President Emmanuel Macron twice” and by “phone with European Union foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini.”
Here’s what the Logan Act says: “Any citizen of the United States 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.”
Assuming Mr. Kerry is not authorized to embolden the Iranians and Europeans with false hope, pushing the string our president is trying to pull, then he is in express violation of the act. Unlike the Flynn case, there is little ambiguity here. The violation is textbook.
Does that mean anything will happen? No. For his own purposes and to preserve his own unelected, unappointed, and unauthorized political agenda, Mr. Kerry will probably continue chasing the Nobel Prize he never got, so badly wanted and still feels he deserves – all for that horrific Iran deal.
After all, Mr. Kerry handed over $1.7 billion to Iran, in American cash. He must feel he is owed something.
That same $1.7 billion, if applied to American needs, would have bought a big chunk of a southern border wall, wider veterans’ benefits, one year of federal low income energy assistance, two-thirds of all federal job training, or all standardized testing for American kids for a year. But never mind. John Kerry needed his prize, and he still wants it.
President Trump’s Justice Department, consumed in responding to a mess created by Mr. Obama’s other Secretary of State, will likely let the Logan Act violation go. And maybe that is the right thing. We can only call out so many bad acts and bad actors. And the Logan Act may be – as Professor Alan Dershowitz suggests – unconstitutionally vague.
Still, this does not make Mr. Kerry blameless. Any more than he is blameless for having set this terrible Iran deal in motion, with his predecessor and with President Obama, in the first place.
What his insolence, arrogance and indefensible continuation of private “shadow diplomacy” points to is this: The Democrats will not accept the outcome of the American electoral process, and for the first time in American history are actively – perhaps illegally – seeking to undermine it.