As tensions between the United States and Iran mount, an exclusive piece from The Daily Beast reports that former Obama administration officials are using their connections to speak with Iranian officials in what appears to be an attempt to undercut the Trump administration.
“As the Trump administration sent warplanes and an aircraft carrier to the Persian Gulf, a small group of former Obama administration officials reached out to their contacts in the Iranian government, including Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif,” The Daily Beast reported.
“Their message to Iran: Don’t take Trump’s bait. Stay calm.”
The report alleges that conversations between Obama officials and Iranian officials have been taking place since November 2016, specifically when Zarif is in the United States for the convening of the U.N. General Assembly.
However, as tensions have continued to mount, the conversations have been taking place “over the phone and in person over the last two months,” according to the report.
While several Obama officials reportedly told The Daily Beast that these conversations were “normal,” Republicans see it as anything but normal.
One Republican aide who works on Iran policy reportedly told The Daily Beast that these conversations could undercut the Trump administration’s message to Iran.
“It’s not just about what they were saying to the Iranians. It’s about what they were saying to their political allies back here in the U.S.,” the aide said.
“Their strategy was to divide and isolate the Trump administration just as the Trump administration was trying to re-establish deterrence with Iran. In the current highly partisan political environment, the only safe course is to signal national unity — and they contributed to eroding that at home and abroad,” the aide continued.
CEO of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies Mark Dubowitz reportedly told The Daily Beast, “Former Obama administration officials gave wrong-headed advice to the regime in Iran that U.S. sanctions couldn’t work without European support and that the regime should just wait out the Trump administration.”
He said these Obama officials would be “wise” to tell its Iranian counterparts to go back to the negotiating table with the Trump administration.
“Bipartisan support for efforts to block the Islamic Republic’s malign activities strengthens American security,” Dubowitz said.
Mark Hemingway with the Weekly Standard wrote that these conversations could be a violation of the Logan Act — legislation that prohibits non-governmental people from engaging in diplomatic discussions on behalf of the United States.
Sounds like a Logan Act violation! Commence the wiretaps. https://t.co/CQg4vsckib
— Mark Hemingway (@Heminator) May 31, 2019
“What I would like to see with Iran, I would like to see them call me. John Kerry, he speaks to them a lot. John Kerry tells them not to call. That is a violation of the Logan Act,” the president said. “And frankly, he should be prosecuted on that.”