Trump Accuses Democrats of Breaking the Law by Meeting With Iran

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In a fiery tweet on Wednesday, President Trump alleged that Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) and former Secretary of State John Kerry have broken the law by meeting surreptitiously with Iranian officials and trying to conduct shadow diplomacy behind the administration’s back.

“Kerry & Murphy illegally violated the Logan Act,” Trump tweeted. “This is why Iran is not making a deal. Must be dealt with strongly!”

Murphy admitted last week that he met with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif at the Munich Security Conference, telling reporters that “if Trump isn’t going to talk to Iran, then someone should.”

In a response to the president’s condemnation of the meeting, Murphy said: “Iran restarted their nuclear program, fired at our troops, upped support for proxies. Your Iran policy is a disastrous failure. And FYI I’m the Ranking Member on the Senate Foreign Relations subcommittee on the Middle East. It’s literally my job to meet with regional leaders.”

According to the seldom-enforced 1799 Logan Act, “any citizen of the United States, wherever he may be, who, without authority of the United States, directly or indirectly commences or carries on any correspondence or intercourse with any foreign government or any officer or agent thereof, in relation to any disputes or controversies with the United States, or to defeat the measures of the United States, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both.”

It’s unlikely that Murphy, a sitting U.S. senator, could be charged under such a framework, but it is worth noting that his insistence on pushing a parallel version of foreign policy, at odds with the president, is in sharp contrast to his remarks in 2015.

When Obama was in office, 47 Republican senators fired off a letter to the Iranian government, warning them that the Senate could potentially reject any nuclear deal they signed with the administration. At that time, Murphy accused Republicans of “undermining the authority of the president.”

Funny how things change, depending on one’s political allegiances, eh?

Murphy’s meeting with Zarif was also criticized by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who said that the Iranian foreign minister didn’t deserve an audience with U.S. officials.

“He’s the foreign minister for a country that shot down an airliner and has yet to turn over the black boxes,” Pompeo said. “This is the foreign minister of a country that killed an American on December 27. This is the foreign minister of a country that is the world’s largest state sponsor of terror and the world’s largest sponsor of anti-Semitism.”

Let’s be clear: Murphy isn’t trying to stave off international violence or prevent war with Iran. He’s purely trying to make it impossible for President Trump to secure a major diplomatic victory with one of America’s greatest adversaries. His backdoor diplomacy may not be a crime, but it is certainly traitorous.