Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT) met with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif at the Munich Security Conference last week. Given that the meeting was done in secret it gives the appearance of being in violation of the Logan Act. The Logan Act criminalizes negotiation by unauthorized American citizens with foreign governments having a dispute with the United States.
While Trump was on the tarmac this afternoon he asked the press if they knew anything about Murphy’s possible Logan Act violation, no one seemed to have any idea of what he was talking about.
The Federalist reported on the possible Logan Act violation saying:
“Such a meeting would mean Murphy had done the type of secret coordination with foreign leaders to potentially undermine the U.S. government that he accused Trump officials of doing as they prepared for Trump’s administration. In February 2017, Murphy demanded investigations of National Security Advisor Mike Flynn because he had a phone call with his counterpart-to-be in Russia.
“Any effort to undermine our nation’s foreign policy – even during a transition period – may be illegal and must be taken seriously,” Murphy said in 2017 after anonymous leaks of Flynn’s phone call with Russian ambassador Sergey Kisylak were published. He also strongly criticized the open letter some Republican senators sent Iranian leaders during the Obama administration’s campaign for a nuclear agreement.
However, Murphy has previously defended rogue meetings if they’re done by Democrats such as former Secretary of State John Kerry.
“Unless it was authorized by the president or secretary of state, conducting independent foreign policy sends mixed signals to our adversaries,” said Christian Whiton, former State Department senior advisor in the Trump and George W. Bush administrations. “It seems very unpalatable. If we want to talk to Iranians, they know how to reach us and they don’t need to go through an intermediary.”
A State Department official who spoke on background said that the State Department was not aware of any side meetings with Iranian officials that Murphy was engaged in…
Murphy is a frequent speaker at the National Iranian American Council, a lobbying group with alleged links to the Islamic Republic of Iran. Republican Sens. Mike Braun of Indiana, Tom Cotton of Arkansas, and Ted Cruz of Texas recently asked the Department of Justice for potential violations of the Foreign Agents Registration Act.
They wrote that the influential lobbying group “purports to improve understanding between American and Iranian people but in reality seems to spread propaganda and lobby on behalf of the Iranian government.” Evidence indicates that evidence Zarif himself was involved in founding the group. “
Earlier today Murphy tweeted about the meeting trying to defend himself in a four-part tweet by saying, “Congress is a co-equal branch to the executive. We set foreign policy too. “
2/ First, I urged him to control any Iranian proxies in Iraq who might attack U.S. forces and allies there.— Chris Murphy (@ChrisMurphyCT) February 18, 2020
Second, I pressed him to release American citizens being unlawfully detained in Iran.
Third, I pushed him to end the Houthi blockage of humanitarian aid in Yemen.
4/ I wish President Trump would see that value too. Because our current policy of blind, non-strategic escalation is just making Iran more powerful and menacing, and making America weaker and less secure.— Chris Murphy (@ChrisMurphyCT) February 18, 2020
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