John Kerry expressed a possible interest into a presidential run in 2020. Literally hours afterward, there were already calls for his arrest coming from Conservatives via the website RedState. At issue is Kerry’s meeting with Hussein Agha, a friend of Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas. During the meeting, Kerry told Agha to tell Abbas to not give in to Trump’s demands, to try and avoid attacking the United States or the White House, and focus his criticisms on Trump himself. Kerry also said that he feels Trump would not remain in office for much longer, for obvious reasons such as the Mueller probe.
That’s all they needed. Conservatives ran absolutely wild with accusations against Kerry after the news broke. RedState, and other even less reputable websites, are accusing him of violating the Logan Act, and implying that for the violation he has to be fined, jailed, or possibly both.
So what’s the Logan Act forbid?
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, with intent to influence the measures or conduct of any foreign government or of 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.
Usually, you can find some ambiguity in anything but in this case, that sounds exactly like what John Kerry did.
RedState also goes on to claim that Kerry promised to directly aid Abbas by using “all his contacts and all his abilities” to get support for a Palestinian peace plan. However, as of this writing, the most noteworthy news source that made that claim was the New York Post. Many right-wing blogs also ran with the alleged quote by Kerry after the NY Post released it, but even Fox News hasn’t vetted that as a true quote at this time.
RedState’s opinion on the Logan Act seems very fluid. In 2013, they denied Senator Tom Cotton violated the act by attempting to sabotage a nuclear non-proliferation agreement that Barack Obama negotiated with Iran. Cotton did this after accepting a $1 million bribe in campaign donations from Pro-Israel interests. The Logan act does allow for some leeway as far as congressional legislators go, in order for them to fulfill their constitutional duties. However, there is no constitutional duty outlined in the Senate’s responsibilities that dictate a Senator must attempt to sabotage an executive agreement established by a sitting U.S. president.
Even the very constitutionality of the Logan Act itself has been called into question many times by scholars. Their consensus is that due to the law’s use of very vague terms such as “defeat,” it’s unlikely that anyone would be subject of a successful prosecution and conviction under the law. Just another day in Republicanland. The only care about the Constitution when it can be used to hurt the public, or Democrats.