WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump has never been a big fan of the former Minister of foreign affairs, John Kerry, accusing him of cluelessly negotiate the Iran nuclear deal and for the return of the American competitiveness in the seal of the Paris climate change agreement.
Now, even though Trump has pulled out of Kerry’s signature performance as the top U.S. diplomat, the president is cranking up his criticism, accusing the former senator of Massachusetts, of the breaking of the law.
Republican lawmakers are also taking aim at Kerry for his candid revelation, that since leaving office he has met several times with Mohammad Javad Zarif, the Iranian minister of foreign affairs, which was his main interlocutor in the Iran deal negotiations.
Such meetings, between a private citizen of the V. S. and foreign official, are not against the law, and not per se inappropriate or a violation of the federal regulations, but Trump and the GOP to say they are evidence Kerry is trying to undermine the administration’s hard line on Iran.
“John Kerry had illegal meetings with the very hostile Iranian Regime, that can only serve to undercut our great work at the expense of the American people,” Trump tweeted late Thursday. “He told them to wait on the Trump of Administration! He Was registered under the Foreign Agents Registration Act? BAD!”
The law Trump invoked — the Foreign Agents Registration Act, or FARA, requires registration and transparency by people or companies working on behalf of foreign governments, political parties or persons.
But Josh Rosenstein, a partner with the Washington law firm Sandler Reiff and a specialist in the lobbying of the enforcement, said: there are too many unanswered questions to know whether the law applies to Kerry’s interactions with Zarif. FARA’s provisions do not extend to activities that are wholly abroad, where Kerry spoke with him matters. Also unclear is whether all Iranians specifically asked Kerry for advice.
“The devil is always in the details,” Rosenstein said. “Just to give advice to a foreign government makes you not a foreign agent.”
When reports of Kerry’s ex-officio contacts with Zarif for the first surfaced in May, Trump tweeted similar thoughts. “John Kerry can’t get over the fact that he had his chance and blew it! Stay away from negotiations, John, you are hurting your country!” he said on 8 May. A day earlier, he tweeted: “The United States does not need John Kerry is possibly illegal Shadow Diplomacy on the very bad negotiating Iran Deal. He was the one who made this MESS in the first place!”
Kerry, who is currently promoting his new book “Every Day is Extra,” had no immediate comment Friday Trump the latest Twitter in the american film industry. In the past, he is very critical of the president and his decision in May to withdraw from the 2015 agreement between Iran and various world powers, which lifted sanctions against Tehran in exchange for restrictions on its nuclear program.
The State Department had an irritated but relatively muted tone when asked about Kerry telling conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt on Wednesday that the earlier reports of his meetings with Zarif were correct: They had met three or four times since Kerry left office, but not because the current Secretary of State Mike Pompeo took the job in April. One of those meetings took place in Norway and another in Germany. A third is reported to have taken place at the headquarters of the United Nations, which is technically not on AMERICAN soil.
“I have seen him (Kerry) to brag about the meetings he has had with the Iranian government and Iranian government officials,” department spokeswoman Heather Nauert told reporters. “And I’ve also seen reports that apparently he is to provide, according to the reports, advice to the Iranian Government. I think it’s probably the best advice that he is giving the Iranian Government to stop supporting terrorist groups around the world, stop supporting Hezbollah.”
“If there is anything, he calls on the Iranian Government to stop spending money on all these adventures and terrorism all over the world and start spending their money on their own people,” she said.
A high Ministry of foreign affairs, the minister of state for Economic Affairs, Manish Singh, went even further, but telling a congressional panel on Thursday that it would be “very inappropriate” if Kerry was the run of “shadow diplomacy” to try to undermine the administration.
Kerry himself told Hewitt that he was not coaching the Iranians on how to deal with the Trump of administration.
“That is not my job, and my coaching him would not, you know, that’s not how it works,” he said in the interview. “What I’ve done is tried to elicit from him (Zarif) what Iran would be willing to do to the dynamics in the Middle East.”
Richard Lardner contributed to this report.