President Donald Trump on Thursday revived a months-old attack against former Secretary of State John Kerry, accusing him of violating a law that prohibits Americans from negotiating with foreign governments on behalf of the country without proper authorization. A spokesperson for Kerry said in response that “everything” Trump asserted Thursday was “simply wrong.”
While answering a reporter’s question in the White House about whether the United States would engage in a military confrontation with Iran — “I don’t want to say ‘no,” Trump replied, defending his decision to move the USS Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group to the region — Trump zeroed in on Kerry.
“John Kerry speaks to [Iran] a lot,” Trump said, without explaining himself. “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 that’s— Only the Democrats do that kind of stuff.”
(Attorney General William Barr, testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee recently, wouldn’t answer Sen. Kamala Harris’ (D-CA) question about whether “anyone at the White House ever asked or suggested that you open an investigation of anyone.”)
“He’s talking to Iran and has been, has many meetings and many phone calls, and he’s telling them what to do,” Trump added, referring to Kerry. “That is a total violation of the Logan Act.”
A spokesperson for Kerry told CNN’s Michelle Kosinski that “everything” Trump said Thursday “is simply wrong, end of story.”
NEW: John Kerry’s spokesman responds to Trump’s accusations: "Everything President Trump said today is simply wrong, end of story. 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.”
— Michelle Kosinski (@MichLKosinski) May 9, 2019
Kerry has previously acknowledged meeting with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and European diplomats despite not officially representing the United States. The Boston Globe reported his meeting with Zarif in May last year.
“Every secretary of state, former secretary of state, continues to meet with foreign leaders, goes to security conferences, goes around the world,” he told Fox News in September.
Trump attacked Kerry at the time, alleging he’d broken a separate law, the Foreign Agents Registration Act.
Kerry brushed it off, plugging his book in response:
Mr. President, you should be more worried about Paul Manafort meeting with Robert Mueller than me meeting with Iran's FM. But if you want to learn something about the nuclear agreement that made the world safer, buy my new book, Every Day Is Extra: https://t.co/DKjc33Kvvu https://t.co/cesltkt0zW
— John Kerry (@JohnKerry) September 14, 2018
Trump withdrew from the Obama-era Iran nuclear deal — which placed restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program that prevented it from developing nuclear weapons, in exchange for eliminating sanctions — a year ago. Despite certifying that Iran had complied with the deal, the President said the country had violated its “spirit.”
Trump revives months-old attacks against John Kerry for meeting with Iranian foreign minister. pic.twitter.com/1SMqwoFKah
— TPM Livewire (@TPMLiveWire) May 9, 2019