Sec. Mike Pompeo had some strong words Thursday for former Sec. John Kerry and other members of the Obama administration who are involving themselves in foreign policy discussions with Iran: Get off the stage. President Trump, as recently as last week, accused Kerry of violating the Logan Act and interfering in America’s relationship with Iran through repeated meetings with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif. Trump said Kerry should be prosecuted but Pompeo didn’t go that far:
BENSON: A question about the President, he recently suggested that one of your predecessors from the previous administration, John Kerry, should possibly be prosecuted under the Logan Act for Kerry’s reported ongoing back channels with the Iranians. Critics say that’s undermining the Trump administration’s tougher policy on Iran. Senator Marco Rubio of Florida just this week called for a formal investigation into Kerry’s conduct on that front. As a sitting secretary of state, what do you make of all of that?
POMPEO: It is ahistorical and completely unhelpful when previous secretaries of state are continuing to engage in the tasks that they engaged in when they were the secretary of state. I’ll leave it at that in the sense of it’s time to get off the stage for the previous administration. I understand they have different views than we have. They are entitled to those views. But talking with senior leaders around the world and suggesting to them somehow that waiting out this administration is the best course of action for those countries is something that is unheard of. It is fundamentally different than any previous administration has undertaken and they ought to leave the foreign policy to us and then do their best to give folks with foreign policy leaders that have appeased the Iranians, that allowed Chairman Kim Jong-un to continue to advance his nuclear threat, that put us prostrate around the world. If those are the policies they want, they should go fight for them at the ballot box.
This has been an ongoing irritation for the Trump administration. Last September, Pompeo was asked about it and had a similar response. The question to Pompeo was prompted by this tweet from the president:
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
As Allahpundit has pointed out several times, undercutting America’s foreign policy is John Kerry’s life story. If anyone were going to be charged with violating the Logan Act he would be first in line. But of course, nothing will come of this as Trump himself said last week. The Logan Act gets a lot of attention from law professors and talking heads on TV but only two people have been indicted under it and both of those instances were in the 19th century. That’s good news for Kerry and also for Sen. Dianne Feinstein who is apparently also doing some freelance foreign policy this week:
Playbook: Sen. Dianne Feinstein was walking around the capitol with her iPhone in hand, and @JZarif’s contact page open.
Zarif is Iran’s foreign minister
A few minutes after I spotted her w her cell phone, she released a statement saying zarif didn’t want war pic.twitter.com/4LotHKyOtg
— Jake Sherman (@JakeSherman) May 16, 2019
As far as the underlying question goes, there is a fair amount of saber-rattling happening set off by several indications Iran may be targeting US soldiers or sailors:
The intelligence that caused the White House to escalate its warnings about a threat from Iran came from photographs of missiles on small boats in the Persian Gulf that were put on board by Iranian paramilitary forces, three American officials said…
CNN first reported that Iranian missiles were being moved onto ships last week. But new details have emerged in recent days, and American officials have concluded that Iran did not intend to transfer the weapons to a foreign militia.
Combined with other intelligence, the photographs signaled a troubling Iranian mobilization of forces that officials said put American ships, bases and commercial vessels at risk.
Adding to that concern, the United States recently learned of conversations between the Revolutionary Guards and foreign militias discussing attacks on American troops and diplomats in Iraq. The conversations themselves are nothing new, but the recent discussions were held with unusual frequency and included specifics about strikes on American targets.
A British general said this week that he’s seen no evidence of increased threats from Iran. That got him a rebuke from a US spokesman. The UK Ministry of Defense put out a somewhat defensive statement neither backing the US claims nor denying the possibility of Iranian threats. Given the history of the run-up to the Iraq War and the general resistance mindset in Washington to anything Trump says or does, Democrats are not likely to take on the Trump administration’s view of the intelligence anytime soon. Still, there’s a line between domestic squabbling over intelligence and calling up Iran’s foreign minister to talk about it. The Iranians, like the Russians, are not our friends.