update: On Thursday night, after news of John Kerry's Wednesday Hugh Hewitt Show radio interview in which he admitted meeting with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif "three or four times" since Donald Trump took office for unauthorized discussions touching on the Iran nuclear deal, President Trump slammed the "illegal meetings" as serving to "undercut" White House diplomatic dealings with Iran.
Trump further hinted that Kerry violated the Logan Act by rhetorically asking whether Kerry is officially registered as a foreign agent.
The president tweeted: John Kerry had illegal meetings with the very hostile Iranian Regime, which can only serve to undercut our great work to the detriment of the American people. He told them to wait out the Trump Administration! Was he registered under the Foreign Agents Registration Act? BAD!
John Kerry had illegal meetings with the very hostile Iranian Regime, which can only serve to undercut our great work to the detriment of the American people. He told them to wait out the Trump Administration! Was he registered under the Foreign Agents Registration Act? BAD!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 14, 2018
Multiple conservative commentators said Kerry finally admitted to prior charges that he was conducting secretive talks behind Trump's back aimed toward salvaging the 2015 nuclear deal.
Later in the same day as the Hugh Hewitt Show admissions, former Secretary of State Kerry appeared on FOX and was interviewed by Dana Perino.
"I think everybody in the world is sitting around talking about waiting out President Trump," Kerry said to Perino. "You've got our allies, remarkably — the people that we've worked with the closest through the years — who are sitting there saying, 'What's next?'" Kerry added.
John Kerry on Syria, Iran deal, Democrats ahead of midterms https://t.co/DEtsIrgA7e— Afringrad (@primus123456789) September 13, 2018
In reaction to the Dana Perino interview former Bush spokesman Ari Fleischer said on "Special Report" Kerry was likely advising Iran on how to "wait out" the tenure of President Trump.
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Though he previously denied it when allegations first surfaced last Spring, former Secretary of State John Kerry has now disclosed he's personally had semi-frequent face to face contact with top Iranian officials to discuss US-Iran relations since Trump entered office.
Kerry confirmed and explained in detail his recent meetings with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif in an interview with radio host Hugh Hewitt to promote his new memoir, Every Day Is Extra.
During the interview Kerry disclosed that he met with Zarif "three or four times" and discussed political issues and challenges between the United States and Iran in what could constitute a significant and clear violation of the Logan Act.
While it's almost never been enforced, the 1799 Logan Act states that unauthorized diplomacy with foreign powers by private American citizens is a crime. Notably, two Trump-connected individuals that prominent Liberals and editorials demanded be prosecuted under the Logan Act include former national security advisor Michael Flynn and Trump senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner.
When asked point blank during the radio show about his rumored meetings with top Iran officials, Kerry admitted, "I think I've seen him three or four times," but attempted to claim he was not trying to "coach" Iran on how to navigate President Trump's pullout of the Iran nuclear deal.
Kerry is of course now a private citizen out of government but holds significant clout and influence with the Iran FM as the two hammered out the details of the JCPOA brokered under President Obama in the first place.
.@JohnKerry’s arrogance and repeated attempts to undermine this administration by salvaging the #IranDeal are striking. The deal was sold to Americans based on a pack of lies and deception. The President’s decision to withdraw was correct. https://t.co/QN3KQanmE1— Marsha Blackburn (@MarshaBlackburn) September 12, 2018
However, by Kerry's own explanation it looks precisely like he was doing this: "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 said. He also shared his belief that American policy in the Middle East would be much better off if the White House had stayed in the agreement, and that the global community would be more stable and secure.
It sure sounds like unauthorized diplomacy behind Trump's back by a high ranking member of the former administration to us...
Soon after the interview, some Iran hawks in Congress took to Twitter to decry the hypocrisy of the whole thing.
I assume MSM & Dems who got vapors & cried “Logan Act!” when 46 senators & I released letter defending Senate’s treaty power will accuse @JohnKerry of Logan Act violation.— Tom Cotton (@TomCottonAR) September 12, 2018
Kidding re Logan Act, a stupid, dead-letter law. Not kidding re hypocrisy. https://t.co/4Y41Mck6RO
Here's a key part of the transcript via the Hugh Hewitt Show:
Hugh Hewitt: Okay, it’s been reported you’ve met with him a couple of times at least since leaving office as well. So you still…
John Kerry: Yes, I have. That’s accurate.
HH: And is it a half dozen times, a dozen times?
JK: No. No, no, no. I met with him at a conference in Norway. I think I saw him in a conference in Munich at the World Economic Forum. So I’ve probably seen him three or four times.
HH: Are you trying to coach him through the Trump administration’s rejection of the JCPOA?
JK: No, that’s not my job, and my coaching him would not, you know, that’s not how it works. 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. You know, how does one resolve Yemen? 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. I mean, and I’ve been very blunt to Foreign Minister Zarif, and told him look, you guys need to recognize that the world does not appreciate what’s happening with missiles, what’s happening with Hezbollah, what’s happening with Yemen. You’re supporting you know, an ongoing struggle there They say they’re prepared to negotiate and to resolve these issues. But the administration’s taken a very different tack. I don’t know as I talk to you today if there’s been any dialogue or sit down. I don’t think there has, which would open up any kind of diplomatic channel. And it appears right now as if the administration is hell bent for leather determined to pursue a regime change strategy to bring the economy down and try to isolate further. And I would simply caution that the United States historically has not had a great record in regime change strategies, number one. And number two, that makes it very difficult, if not impossible, for any Iranian leader to sit down and negotiate anything, because they’re not going to do it in a capitulatory, you know, situation. It’s just not going to happen.
It certainly appears that Kerry by his own admission is indeed trying to "coach" the Iranian FM on how to deal with the current White House. And the discussions clearly included chiding the Trump administration over its Iran policy while in Kerry's own words the "open[ing] of diplomatic channels" was on his mind.
Meanwhile some Republican lawmakers have already, hours after the interview, unleashed charges that Kerry is engaged in rogue diplomacy and is undermining the active, elected administration.
It was only a matter of time before he put his foot in his mouth, and promoting his new book means we're likely about to hear a lot more self implicating details spilled.