Echoing accusations five decades ago that he conducted unauthorized diplomacy with communist Vietnamese leaders in Paris, John Kerry is being accused by a Trump administration official of trying to undermine the president by conducting “shadow diplomacy” with Iranian officials to salvage the nuclear deal.
Kerry has admitted in promotions for his new book, “Every Day Is Extra,” that he still speaks with European and Iranian diplomats.
The administration official on Thursday told Fox News Kerry’s meetings are “shameful,” noting Iranian-backed militias are killing and injuring people in Syria, Iraq and Yemen.
John Kerry representing Vietnamese Veterans Against the War at a protest in Washington, D.C., April 20-21, 1971 (Photo: Library of Congress, LC-U9-24273)
In 1970, Kerry, as a private citizen, met with Madame Binh, the top Viet Cong negotiator to the Paris Peace talks in which Henry Kissinger represented the United States. The following July he held a press conference calling on President Nixon to accept Binh’s peace proposal in which the United States essentially would surrender.
Former White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer told Fox News that Kerry is “out giving advice to Iran about how to maneuver around what Donald Trump is doing; it’s insidious.”
“I don’t know if it’s legal or illegal, I don’t care about that side of it. It’s wrong,” he said.
Some have suggested Kerry could be violating the Logan Act, which bars private citizens from negotiating on behalf of the U.S. government without authorization. However, no one has ever been successfully prosecuted under the law, Fox News pointed out.
Fleischer said he believes Kerry was “giving Iran advice about how to wait out President Trump.”
On Wednesday, Kerry acknowledged to radio host Hugh Hewitt that he has had three or four meetings with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif since leaving office.
The nuclear deal scrapped by President Trump was discussed, he said.
“What I have done is tried to elicit from him what Iran might be willing to do in order to change the dynamic in the Middle East for the better,” said the former secretary of state.
Later Wednesday, on the Fox News Channel’s “Special Report,” Kerry did not deny he’s telling the Iranians to wait out Trump until a Democratic president takes office.
“I think everybody in the world is talking about waiting out President Trump,” said Kerry.
Trump commented in May when the Boston Globe reported Kerry met Zarif in what the paper called an “aggressive yet stealthy” mission to pressure the Trump administration to keep the nuclear deal.
“The United States does not need John Kerry’s possibly illegal Shadow Diplomacy on the very badly negotiated Iran Deal. He was the one that created this MESS in the first place!” Trump tweeted.
Kerry insisted to Dana Perino of Fox News on Wednesday that his conversations were appropriate.
“Every secretary of state, former secretary of state continues to meet with foreign leaders, goes to security conferences, goes around the world,” Kerry said. “We all do that. And we all have conversations (about) the state of affairs with the world in order to understand them.”
Kerry, however, is being accused of hypocrisy for scolding 47 Republican senators in 2015 for sending a letter to Tehran warning the mullah-led regime that any deal with Obama would be null the moment the Democrat left office.
Kerry told a Senate hearing that “to write to the leaders in the middle of a negotiation, particularly the leaders that they have criticized other people for even engaging with, and suggest that they’re going to give a constitutional lesson — which by the way, was absolutely incorrect — is quite stunning.”
“This letter ignores more than two centuries of precedence in the conduct of American foreign policy,” he said.