One of the possible charges against disgraced National Security Adviser Michael Flynn and quite possibly against Trump himself is that they violated the Logan Act. That’s the statute that dates to the early years of the Republic, making it a crime for a private citizen to attempt to conduct foreign policy, specifically to “influence the measures or conduct of any foreign government” in a dispute with the United States or “to defeat the measures of the United States.”
It’s painfully clear that the Trump campaign did just that, in multiple contacts with Russia, both before and after the 2016 election. Now the shoe is on the other foot. Former Secretary of State John Kerry, according to a Boston Globe report, has made multiple efforts in recent months to salvage the Iran deal, including a meeting with Iran’s foreign minister.
Donald Trump, by all indications a serial Logan offender, is predictably outraged. “The United States does not need John Kerry’s possibly illegal Shadow Diplomacy on the very badly negotiated Iran Deal,” the president tweeted. “He was the one that created this MESS in the first place!” Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani has also blasted Kerry.
Let’s admit that this is tricky stuff. Henry Kissinger plainly violated the Logan Act when he had secret meetings with the North Vietnamese on the eve of the 1968 presidential election in an effort to slow down any deal that might help Democratic candidate Hubert Humphrey.
Though the law doesn’t explicitly say so, it seems far more offensive when a political campaign mucks around with sensitive foreign policy in an attempt to disadvantage the incumbent government. That starts bordering on treason.
Kerry’s bigger worry—and ours—is not that he might face prosecution under the Logan Act. It’s that Trump could destroy the Iran deal out of sheer spite.
However, one unlikely factor might prevent that: Trump’s overblown hopes for a deal with North Korea. But if Trump were to torpedo the Iran agreement, why should Kim Jong-Un trust that Trump won’t do the same with a Korea deal, should that prove expedient?
Trump, of course, is not famous for honoring trust—just ask any of several former business associates, not to mention his former wives. On the other hand, neither is he famous for making logical connections.