Former Secretary of State John Kerry is under fire over a report that he has been engaged in an illegal “shadow diplomacy” with officials from Iran and Europe as part of a final attempt to save the seemingly doomed 2015 Iran nuclear deal.
The Boston Globe reported Friday that 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 to keep the deal in some form. Kerry does not hold any legal government position.
Trump faces a May 12 deadline to review the deal, and Kerry has been ramping up his meetings ahead of that deadline. He reportedly met with German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier — who was foreign minister of Germany when the deal was negotiated. He has also met with French President Emmanuel Macron twice and spoken by phone with European Union foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini.
Kerry working with foreign governments to save the flawed #IranDeal certainly raises Logan Act questions. Plus, imagine if former Sec. Rice had done this to Obama. What would the reaction have been? #DoubleStandard https://t.co/GKd52OwNCu
— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) May 5, 2018
Rubio pointed to the double standard, suggesting there would be a bigger outcry if Bush-era Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice had done the same during the Obama administration.
There was a significant outcry from Democrats and the Obama administration in 2015 when Republicans — led by Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton — wrote to Iranian leadership explaining the difference between an executive agreement and a treaty.
The letter suggested that any deal without a congressional vote could be modified by a future Congress or revoked with “the stroke of a pen” by whoever replaces President Obama.
At that time, Kerry slammed Cotton’s move as an “unconstitutional, un-thought-out action by somebody who has been in the United States Senate for 60-something days.”
Harvard Law School professor emeritus Alan Dershowitz said Saturday that Kerry is lucky that no one has been prosecuted under the Logan Act or else he could be in trouble.
Dershowitz said that there are “real problems” with what Kerry is doing. “He is negotiating, though he is not in the administration, and there are real problems with doing that.”
Trump has been critical not only of the Iran deal but also Kerry’s role in negotiating the deal in particular. He has repeatedly called him the “worst negotiator I’ve ever seen.”
On Friday, Trump mocked Kerry at the National Rifle Association’s annual conference in Dallas, Texas, describing him as “not the best negotiator we’ve ever seen” and mocking Kerry for breaking his leg during 2015 negotiations.
“He never walked away from the table, except to be in that bicycle race where he fell and broke his leg,” he said to cheers from the crowd.
President Trump has indicated that he plans to pull out of the Iran deal.