John Kerry meetings with Iran and Michael Flynn talks with Russian officials: Two different treatments?
Trump said Kerry should be prosecuted under the Logan Act
A report alleging John Kerry may have colluded with Iran when meeting with its foreign minister during the Trump administration is drawing comparisons to the situation of retired Gen. Michael Flynn, who pleaded guilty to giving false statements to the FBI that included statements regarding his communications with a Russian ambassador.
Gen. Jack Keane, a retired four-star general and Fox News senior strategic analyst, told Fox News that the two instances deal with different issues but he can see why some would draw a correlation.
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"In terms of what Secretary Kerry was doing and other members of the Biden administration, in my judgment is appalling and it’s reckless and significantly irresponsible," Keane said in an interview.
"What we’re not used to is previous government officials actually colluding and talking to our enemies, and I emphasize enemy because that is who Iran really is. In the past 40 years, there is no nation-state that has killed more Americans than Iran," he said.
Keane said there is a "considerable difference" between Flynn's and Kerry's situations, adding that "Gen. Flynn, as the incoming national security advisor, certainly talking to the Russian ambassador is part of his responsibility… which is normal protocol."
Biden administration officials, including John Kerry and Robert Malley, had meetings with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif during the Trump administration that were orchestrated to undermine President Biden's predecessor, a recent report from The Washington Times claims. Kerry has been open about the fact that he met with Zarif at least twice during the Trump administration, prompting Trump to say he should be prosecuted under the Logan Act because of the meetings.
The Logan Act bars private citizens from engaging with foreign nations in unauthorized talks that undermine U.S. foreign policy.
Zarif held meetings with Obama administration veterans who could return to power "to devise a political strategy to undermine the Trump administration" and usher in softer diplomacy between the U.S. and Iran, according to an unnamed former senior U.S. official cited by The Washington Times.
Kerry is now Biden's climate envoy, and Malley, who was part of creating the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) regarding Iran's nuclear capabilities, is Biden's Iran envoy.
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A judge dismissed the criminal case against Flynn in December. Flynn's discussions with the Russian ambassador included Russia's response to U.S. sanctions and a UN security council resolution regarding Israel. Flynn also admitted to filing paperwork under the Foreign Agents Registration Act that contained misrepresentations regarding business with Turkey. His sentencing was delayed due to his cooperation with prosecutors.
In 2019, Flynn began to claim innocence in the case, citing alleged FBI misconduct. FBI records were produced that called their interview into question, including handwritten notes that indicated an internal question as to whether the interview was meant to extract truth from Flynn or to get him to lie so authorities could pressure him with prosecution or termination.
"What was not routine is that Gen. Flynn was investigated, the investigators recommended to close the case based on no evidence of wrongdoing, but the top FBI leadership kept it open," Keane said.
What Kerry and other Democrats spoke about with Zarif is unknown. However, the Washington Times reported that while former President Donald Trump's attempts to set up a back channel with Iranian officials, meant to defuse tensions, fizzled, Democrats like Malley were meeting with Zarif.
"We don’t know exactly why he rejected it, but we can speculate that Malley, who’s now a part of the Biden team, was possibly telling Zarif that he should wait out the Trump administration and get a better deal," Keane said.
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Fox News' inquiry to Kerry was not immediately returned.
Fox News' Ronn Blitzer, Bill Mears and Brooke Singman contributed to this report.