Sen. Marco Rubio wants the Justice Department to investigate whether former Secretary of State John Kerry broke federal laws when he chose to meet with the Iranian foreign minister after Donald Trump became president and Kerry was again a private citizen.
According to Fox News, the laws Rubio brought up in a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions are the Logan Act and the Foreign Agents Registration Act .
The Logan Act forbids any unauthorized person from negotiating with foreign governments about “disputes or controversies” with the U.S. The Foreign Agents Registration Act requires Americans representing the interests of foreign powers to disclose details about that relationship to American authorities.
According to Fox, Rubio wrote Sessions on Tuesday requesting that the department make a judgment on whether Kerry violated either of these laws.
In the letter, the Florida Republican made it clear that Kerry’s former job didn’t make him exempt from the laws that govern everyone else.
Americans “deserve to know that U.S. laws are enforced regardless of any individual’s past position,” Rubio wrote, according to Fox.
Kerry’s meetings with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif have already been heavily criticized by officials from the Trump administration. According to The Associated Press, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo last week accused Kerry of “actively undermining” U.S policy by meeting with a leader of “the world’s largest state-sponsor of terror.”
Pompeo pointed out that Iranian-backed militias had recently fired at U.S diplomatic compounds located in Iraq.
“You can’t find precedent for this in U.S. history, and Secretary Kerry ought not to engage in that kind of behavior,” Pompeo told reporters, according to the AP. “It’s inconsistent with what foreign policy of the United States is as directed by this president, and it is beyond inappropriate for him to be engaged.”
President Trump, who withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal in May, tweeted on Thursday, that “John Kerry had illegal meetings with the very hostile Iranian Regime, which can only serve to undercut our great work to the detriment of the American people.”
“He told them to wait out the Trump Administration! Was he registered under the Foreign Agents Registration Act? BAD!”
John Kerry had illegal meetings with the very hostile Iranian Regime, which can only serve to undercut our great work to the detriment of the American people. He told them to wait out the Trump Administration! Was he registered under the Foreign Agents Registration Act? BAD!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 14, 2018
There have been reports of Kerry-Zarif meetings since May. Kerry confirmed the meetings in an interview with radio host Hugh Hewitt on Sept. 12, according to a transcript of the interview on Hewitt’s website.
“I think I’ve seen him three or four times,” Kerry said. He went on to say that he had not seen Zarif since Pompeo took over as secretary of state in April.
Kerry said in the interview that he was not colluding with Iran about how to handle the Trump administration, but “rather tried to elicit from him (Zarif) what Iran might be willing to do in order to change the dynamic in the Middle East for the better.”
According to the AP, one of these meetings took place in Oslo, Norway, and another in Munich, while a third meeting reportedly took place at the United Nations headquarters.
Josh Rosenstein, a partner at the Sandler Reiff law firm who specializes in lobbying laws, told the AP that there too many uncertainties in the details of where the meetings occured and what was talked about to make a judgment about whether Kerry was breaking any laws. These details are crucial as FARA provisions don’t apply to actions that took place entirely overseas, he said.
“The devil’s always in the details,” Rosenstein told. “Simply offering advice to a foreign government doesn’t make you a foreign agent.”
Kerry’s spokesman Matt Summers defended Kerry’s behavior in a statement, according to the AP.
“There’s nothing unusual, let alone unseemly or inappropriate, about former diplomats meeting with foreign counterparts,” the statement said, calling concerns about Kerry’s actions “political theatrics.”
If the Justice Department follows through on Rubio’s request, it just might wind up thinking differently.
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