President Donald Trump suggested on April 22 that former Secretary of State John Kerry may have violated the Logan Act by advising Iran.
“Iran is being given VERY BAD advice by John Kerry and people who helped him lead the U.S. into the very bad Iran Nuclear Deal. Big violation of Logan Act?” Trump wrote on Twitter on April 22.
In the months leading up to Trump’s withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal, Kerry engaged in a shadow diplomacy campaign in an attempt to salvage the agreement, according to The Boston Globe.
As part of his efforts, he met with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, and top European Union official Federica Mogherini, according to an anonymous source. Kerry also lobbied members of Congress, according to the report.
Kerry’s efforts may be in violation of the Logan Act, a 1799 law, which criminalizes unauthorized negotiations with foreign governments having a dispute with the United States. Only two people have been indicted for violating the act, one in 1802 and the other in 1852.
Mainstream media and opponents of the Trump administration accused then-national security adviser Michael Flynn of violating the Logan Act, claiming he wasn’t authorized to speak with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak before the inauguration. Flynn was never charged with violating the act. He still faces sentencing after pleading guilty to lying to the FBI.
Conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch sued the Department of State on April 15, for records of communications between Kerry and State Department officials and meetings between Kerry and Iranian officials about the Iran deal.
“John Kerry wasn’t elected president, so he should avoid colluding with Iran and other foreign government to undermine U.S. foreign policy,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton.
“Our lawsuit is meant to discover not only what Kerry was up to but also to unearth who inside the Deep State Trump ‘resistance’ were coordinating with Kerry’s clandestine efforts to undermine President Trump’s Iran policy.”
Trump brought up Kerry’s potential violation after the White House announced that it would not extend waivers on Iran oil sanctions to the biggest buyers of Iranian oil, including India, China, and Japan. Trump’s goal is to bring Iran’s oil exports to zero, in a bid to force the regime to abandon its nuclear and missile programs, stop funding radical Islamic terrorism, and end human rights abuses, among other issues.
News of the impending end to the waivers triggered a spike in oil prices. The White House said it is working with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to increase production to make up for the supply lost from Iran.
“Saudi Arabia and others in OPEC will more than make up the Oil Flow difference in our now Full Sanctions on Iranian Oil,” Trump wrote on Twitter.
In September 2018, the United States outpaced Russia and Iran to become the world’s largest crude oil producer for the first time in nearly two decades.
Kerry told Congress in 1971 that he met with Vietnamese communists to discuss how to stop the Vietnam War. Kerry would not become an elected official until more than a decade after that meeting.