Earlier this week, Mollie Hemingway reported that “Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut and other Democratic senators had a secret meeting with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif during the Munich Security Conference last week, according to a source briefed by the French delegation to the conference.”
Immediately, the cries that Murphy and others in his party like John Kerry violated the Logan Act went up. But it really doesn’t matter because the next person who is sent to jail for violating the Logan Act will be the first person sent to jail.
If the law were ever enforced, there would be some famous Democrats in a federal penitentiary.
The Logan Act is an eighteenth-century law meant to crack down on unauthorized Americans acting on behalf of the United States during a dispute with foreign governments.
The Logan Act prohibits US citizens from having private correspondence with a foreign government “with intent to influence the measures or conduct of any foreign government … in relation to any disputes or controversies with the United States, or to defeat the measures of the United States.
The President correctly made the accusation also.
John Kerry and Senator Chris Murphy grossly violated the Logan Act with respect to Iran. If a Republican did what they did, there would be very serious ramifications!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 20, 2020
Kerry responded by saying Trump’s accusation was “another presidential lie.” The former Secretary of State was just protecting himself because even if the Munich Security Conference wasn’t counted, John Kerry violated the Logan Act many times in recent years.
During interviews to promote his book in September, 2018 Kerry allowed as how he had met with Zarif three or four times since leaving office and that their talks touched on the international nuclear agreement that Kerry negotiated and Trump killed. This was the first time Kerry admitted this violation, but it had been reported earlier.
In May of 2018, the Boston Globe reported that Kerry went to the U.N. for a meeting with Zarif to discuss ways to save the Iran nuke deal. “It was the second time in about two months that the two had met to strategize over salvaging a deal they spent years negotiating during the Obama administration, according to a person briefed on the meetings.”
In other words, he was actively trying to sabotage U.S. foreign policy. And this wasn’t the first time.
In 1985, then-Sen. John Kerry traveled to Nicaragua for a friendly get-together with the Sandinista president, Daniel Ortega. The position of the Reagan administration was to support the opposition Contras. Kerry wasn’t much interested in the administration’s position. Upon his return to the United States, Kerry met with Pres. Reagan to convey a message from Ortega. Reagan “wasn’t thrilled,” Kerry later told the New York Times.
In 2006 Kerry went to Syria to meet with Bashar al-Assad over the objections of Pres. George W. Bush, who was trying to isolate the Syrian despot at the time.
In January 2018, Israeli Newspaper Ma’ariv reported that Kerry had given a message to Palestinian Authority Pres. Abbas “that he should stay strong in his spirit and play for time, that he should not break and … yield to President Trump’s demands because Trump will be out of office within the year.”
Some on the Left have countered that Sen. Tom Cotton’s March 2015 open letter to the Iranian regime was an example of breaking the Logan Act. But the message wasn’t a negotiation. It didn’t even discuss possible terms of a deal. The Cotton letter signed by 47 senators simply explained how the Constitution worked and that any agreement that wasn’t ratified by the Senate could be overturned (which is precisely what happened).
Ironically, Kerry objected to the Cotton letter, stating:
During my 29 years here in the Senate, I have never heard of — nor even heard of it being proposed — anything comparable to this. If I had, I can guarantee that no matter who was president of what the issue was and no matter who the president was, I would have certainly rejected it.
John Kerry wasn’t the only Democrat who went rogue. When Saddam Hussein’s forces invaded Kuwait on Aug. 2, 1990, before George H.W. Bush’s invasion, former Pres. Jimmy Carter wrote to members of the United Nations Security Council. He asked them not to support the use of force against Hussein.
The U.S. government under President George H.W. Bush learned of Carter’s missive only from Prime Minister Brian Mulroney of Canada. Brent Scowcroft, Bush’s National Security Adviser, called it “unbelievable” that Carter would “ask … the other members of the Council to vote against his own country. … [I]f there was ever a violation of the Logan Act prohibiting diplomacy by private citizens, this was it.”
But this was not the end of the ex-President’s efforts. Just days before the announced deadline for Iraq to withdraw from Kuwait, Carter wrote to the rulers of America’s three most important Arab allies in the crisis — Egypt, Syria, and Saudi Arabia — imploring them to break with Washington: “I urge you to call publicly for a delay in the use of force while Arab leaders seek a peaceful solution to the crisis. You may have to forgo approval from the White House, but you will find the French, Soviets, and others fully supportive.”
Per the Atlanta Journal-Constitution in 2008, Carter met with Hamas against the wishes of President Bush. After days of negotiation, he announced to the world that Hamas was just a peace-loving bunch of good guys, and they were ready to recognize Israel. In a few hours, Hamas responded: They would never recognize Israel.
Even Barack Obama violated the Logan Act. Five months before the 2008 election, he secretly told Iraq to stall on the Status of Forces Agreement they were negotiating with Bush #43.
After Obama became President the negotiations failed (some say on purpose), which opened up the door for ISIS to grow in Iraq.
Some Democrats claim Michael Flynn violated the Logan Act by dealing with the Russian ambassador during the presidential transition of Donald Trump. One of them was Sen. Chris Murphy! As the incoming national security adviser, Flynn’s contact was entirely justified, but Muphy said it was illegal.
In May 2019, Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) was caught on the phone with Zarif. It is not within her purview to negotiate with Iran, but the media reported only one side of the conversation. Therefore we don’t know if Feinstein was in the middle of an unsanctioned negotiation or arranging a dinner date. But she should have known not to be making calls like that on an unsecured cell phone, in public.
Did Murphy and party violate the Logan Act? Did Kerry, Carter, and Obama?
All of them certainly violated the spirit of the law. But even if there were formal charges brought up against Kerry or the other Democrats, it would be a waste of time. In the 220 years since the Logan Act was signed into law, only two people were ever indicted on charges of violating the Act: Francis Flournoy in 1803 and Jonas P. Levy in 1852. Neither one was convicted.
Cross posted at The Lid