(CNSNews.com) – President Trump on Wednesday accused Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) – and former Secretary of State John Kerry – of violating a two century-old law by holding meetings with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif.
“Kerry & Murphy illegally violated the Logan Act,” Trump tweeted. “This is why Iran is not making a deal. Must be dealt with strongly!”
Murphy has confirmed he met with Zarif on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference last weekend, saying that “if Trump isn’t going to talk to Iran, then someone should.”
Responding to Trump’s tweet, Murphy wrote, “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,” he added. “It’s literally my job to meet with regional leaders.”
Murphy is the senior Democrat on the Foreign Relations subcommittee on Near East, South Asia, Central Asia, and Counterterrorism.
The 1799 Logan Act prohibits any U.S. citizen from engaging, “without authority of the United States,” with foreign governments in dispute with the United States. Only two individuals have ever been charged under the act, both in the 19th century, and neither was convicted.
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.
This section shall not abridge the right of a citizen to apply, himself or his agent, to any foreign government or the agents thereof for redress of any injury which he may have sustained from such government or any of its agents or subjects.
In an online article earlier this week, Murphy said he had “no delusions about Iran – they are our adversary, responsible for the killing of thousands of Americans and unacceptable levels of support for terrorist organizations throughout the Middle East.”
“But I think it’s dangerous to not talk to your enemies.”
He also said he had raised with Zarif the question of reprisal attacks following the killing in a U.S. airstrike of Qods Force commander Qassem Soleimani, the civil war in Yemen, and the issue of Americans incarcerated in Iran.
“I cannot conduct diplomacy on behalf of the whole of the U.S. government, and I don’t pretend to be in a position to do so. But if Trump isn’t going to talk to Iran, then someone should.”
Murphy also disclosed that he has met before with Zarif, including during the Trump administration.
Kerry, who formed a connection with Zarif when they negotiated the Obama-era nuclear deal – Zarif frequently says they spent more time with each other than with their wives over that period – has also met privately with the Iranian foreign minister several times since leaving office.
As reported earlier, Zarif by his own admission was close to and friendly with Soleimani, whom Trump has called “the Iranian regime’s most ruthless butcher,” responsible among other things for the deaths of hundreds of U.S. military personnel during the Iraq War.
Zarif has also paid tribute to two senior Hezbollah terrorists, now dead, who were held responsible for attacks including a 1983 bombing in Beirut that accounted for the biggest single-day death toll for the U.S. Marine Corps since World War II.
The U.S. Treasury Department last July designated Zarif for sanctions under an executive order targeting supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and his office. Its designation notice said that apart from Zarif’s role implementing Khamenei’s “reckless agenda” additional information indicates that he “oversees a foreign ministry that has coordinated with one of the Iranian regime’s most nefarious state entities, the IRGC-Qods Force (IRGC-QF), which is designated pursuant to terrorism and human rights authorities.”
“Zarif’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and its high ranking officials have engaged in and funded efforts to influence elections, some of which have involved the IRGC-QF,” the Treasury added.
The Qods Force is the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ division responsible for terrorist and military operations abroad. Soleimani headed the notorious unit for more than two decades before his death in Baghdad last month.