Another day, another call from President Trump to arrest one of his political opponents.
The bee in Trump’s bonnet this time is former Secretary of State John Kerry. During an impromptu White House press conference on Thursday, the president suggested Kerry “should be prosecuted” for violating the Logan Act for talking to his former counterparts in Iran.
Trump made the charge after a reporter asked him what had prompted his administration’s decision this week to send an aircraft carrier to the Persian Gulf as a warning to Iran. Naturally, the president used the opportunity to bash a high-profile figure in the opposing political party.
“What I would like to see with Iran, I would like to see them call me. John Kerry speaks to them a lot,” Trump thundered. “John Kerry tells them not to call. That’s a violation of the Logan Act, and frankly he should be prosecuted on that.”
He went on to complain that if the party positions were reversed, Democrats wouldn’t hesitate to prosecute, but Republicans are apparently too magnanimous.
The Logan Act prohibits negotiations with foreign nations by unauthorized persons. Only two people have ever been indicted for violating it, the last one in 1852. Neither was convicted.
This issue with Kerry has come up before, and has likely been explained to Trump, not that he cares. But Kerry, as has been customary with many past Secretaries of State, has maintained friendly relationships and communications with some of his counterparts in many foreign governments. This includes Iran, with whom he engaged in intense negotiations to bring about the nuclear deal that was one of the crowning achievements of the Obama administration’s foreign policy.
Since Trump made ending that deal a priority both in his campaign and then once he took office, he seems convinced Kerry is trying to undercut him. There is no evidence that is the case. Kerry’s office quickly released a statement saying as much.
Another irony here, quickly pointed out by Politico’s Kyle Cheney, is that Republicans have been calling to repeal the Logan Act because they think it was misused to threaten Michael Flynn during the Russia investigation. Flynn was accused of undercutting the Obama administration’s sanctioning of Russian officials over that nation’s interference in the 2016 election when, during the transition, he told Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak to not retaliate because the Trump administration might reverse Obama’s policy once in office.
As so often happens, Trump’s ego appears to be at odds with his own party, the law and reality.
Watch the video up top, via CNN.