“What I’d like to see with Iran, I’d like to see them call me,” Trump told reporters at the White House on Thursday.
But then he said he would not rule out the possibility of military action in Iran amid escalating tensions before slamming former Secretary of State John Kerry for his involvement in the issue.
He said Kerry should be prosecuted under the Logan Act for speaking with Iranian officials and denouncing Trump’s policy on the Islamic Republic.
“John Kerry speaks to them a lot, and John Kerry tells them not to call. That’s a violation of the Logan Act, and frankly he should be prosecuted on that,” Trump said.
Trump added that his “people don’t want to do anything,” and that “only the Democrats do that kind of stuff.”
“Everything President Trump said today is simply wrong, end of story,” a spokesman for Kerry told CNN. “He’s wrong about the facts, wrong about the law, and sadly he’s been wrong about how to use diplomacy to keep America safe.”
Kerry said last year that he had met with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif “three or four” times since leaving office for discussions on the nuclear deal and other issues.
The Logan Act, a US law enacted in 1799, criminalizes negotiations by unauthorized persons with foreign governments having a dispute with the United States without permission from the US government. Only two people have been indicted for violating the act in 1802 and 1852.
Last month, Trump suggested that Kerry, who served as Secretary of State under former President Barack Obama, helped negotiate the Iran nuclear deal, had provided Tehran with “very bad advice” and may have violated US law by advising the Islamic Republic.
“Iran is being given VERY BAD advice by John Kerry and people who helped him lead the US into the very bad Iran Nuclear Deal,” Trump wrote on Twitter on April 22.
“Big violation of Logan Act?” Trump asked then.
In May last year, Trump pulled the US out of the Iran nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), claiming that it was a bad deal.
Kerry, who served during the administration of former US President Barack Obama, has criticized the Trump administration for pulling out of the accord.
Kerry, who played a main role in the nuclear talks, has described it as the “single strongest, single most accountable, single most transparent nuclear agreement anywhere in the world.”
‘Kerry attacked for promoting diplomacy with Iran’US-based author and political scientist Kaveh Afrasiabi says Donald Trump attacked former Secretary of State John Kerry for promoting diplomacy with Iran.
Since leaving his post, Kerry has had several talks with the Iranian side, advising them to wait out until Trump leaves office.
Trump made a similar attack against Kerry last year, saying he made “illegal meetings” with Iranian officials.
Trump brought up Kerry’s potential violation after the White House announced that all importers of Iranian oil will have to end their imports shortly or face US sanctions.
Last November, the US enforced sanctions targeting the Islamic Republic’s banking and energy sector, however, it granted waivers from the bans to eight major importers of the Iranian oil, fearing market instability including China, India, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Turkey, Italy and Greece.
On Sunday, US National Security Adviser John Bolton announced the deployment of an American carrier strike group to the Middle East, citing a “credible threat” from Iran.
US sends carrier, bomber to Mideast amid rising tensionsThe US says it is deploying an aircraft carrier strike group and a bomber task force to the Middle East in a “clear and unmistakable” message to Iran.
Trump was asked about the deployment decision on Thursday. He said Iran had been “very threatening.”
“We have information that you don’t want to know about. They were very threatening, and we just want to have — we have to have great security for this country,” Trump said.