(CNSNews.com) -- Speaking with reporters on Thursday, President Donald Trump said that former Secretary of State John Kerry had "violated" the Logan Act by frequently communicating with Iran's government since leaving office in 2017, and he "should be prosecuted on that."
The Logan Act, enacted in 1799, states that private citizens not authorized to do so are not permitted to communicate or negotiate with foreign governments that are in a dispute with the United States. Iran is in a dispute with the United States over its nuclear program and the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, which was partly negotiated by Secretary of State John Kerry and which President Trump repudiated in 2018.
“What I would like to see with Iran, I’d like to see them call me," President Trump told reporters on Thursday. "You know, John Kerry speaks to them a lot. John Kerry tells them not to call. That's a violation of the Logan Act. And, frankly, he should be prosecuted on that."
"But my people don't want to do anything that's -- only the Democrats do that kind of stuff, you know," said Trump. "If it were the opposite way, they’d prosecute him under the Logan Act. But John Kerry violated the Logan Act."
"He's talking to Iran and has been, has many meetings and many phone calls, and he's telling them what to do," said the president. "That's a total violation of the Logan Act."
He continued, "Because what they should be doing is — their economy is a mess ever since I took away the Iran deal. They have inflation that’s the highest number I’ve ever heard. They are having riots every weekend and during the week even."
"And what they should be doing is calling me up, sitting down," said Trump. "We can make a deal, a fair deal. We just don’t want them to have nuclear weapons, not too much to ask. And we would help put them back into great shape. They’re in bad shape right now."
"I look forward to the day where we can actually help Iran," he said. "We’re not looking to hurt Iran. I want them to be strong and great and have a great economy."
"But they’re listening to John Kerry, who has violated a very important element of what he’s supposed to be doing," said Trump. "He violated the Logan Act, plain and simple."
Matt Summers, a spokesman for Kerry, said in a statement that Trump "was wrong about the facts, wrong about the law, and sadly he's been wrong about how to use diplomacy to keep America safe. Secretary Kerry helped negotiate a nuclear agreement that worked to solve an intractable problem. The world supported it then and supports it still."
Kerry has disclosed that he met "three or four times" since leaving office with Iran's foreign minister, Javad Zarif. “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,” Kerry confessed last fall. “What do you do to try to get peace in Syria? I mean, those are the things that really are preoccupying, because those are the impediments to people, to Iran’s ability to convince people that it’s ready to embrace something different.”
Commenting on Kerry's stealth diplomacy, the New York Post editorial board said, "Kerry is trying to undercut the sitting president’s position on Iran. That’s a serious transgression.... He’d do himself and his country a big favor by staying home and shutting up."
In April 2018, the Boston Globe reported on how "Kerry is quietly seeking to salvage Iran deal he helped craft."