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President Donald Trump on Monday blasted John Kerry following reports that the former secretary of State has been holding talks with foreign leaders and diplomats in a bid to preserve the Iran nuclear deal.
Trump has threatened to scrap the deal unless France, Germany and the U.K. meet his demands to toughen the terms of the agreement and broaden the scope of issues the accord addresses. With a deadline to waive or restore sanctions looming on Saturday, no trans-Atlantic deal has emerged.
The Boston Globe reported on Friday that Kerry has twice met with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif to discuss the landmark accord they negotiated in 2015. Kerry has also discussed the issue with French President Emmanuel Macron, German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier and top European Union foreign affairs official Federica Mogherini, according to the Globe.
In a tweet, Trump said Kerry's "Shadow Diplomacy" was unwelcome and "possibly illegal."
The president appeared to be referring to the Logan Act, an 18th century law meant to dissuade private citizens from negotiating a dispute with a foreign power on behalf of the United States.
The law has never been used to prosecute anyone and likely would not apply to Kerry's activities because he is seeking to preserve an existing U.S. policy, Stephen Vladeck, law professor at the University of Texas, told the Globe.
In a statement following Trump's tweet, a spokesperson for Kerry told MSNBC, "Secretary Kerry stays in touch with his former counterparts around the world just like every previous Secretary of State. Like America's closest allies, he believes it is important that the nuclear agreement, which took the world years to negotiate, remain effective as countries focus on stability in the region."
The nuclear deal lifted sanctions against Iran in exchange for Tehran accepting limits on its nuclear program and allowing international inspectors to monitor its activities.
British newspaper The Observer on Sunday reported that aides to Trump hired an Israeli firm to dig up dirt on former Obama staffers linked to the Iran nuclear deal negotiations. The New Yorker followed with another report linking the campaign to Black Cube, the firm hired by disgraced Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein to stop allegations of his sexual misconduct from being published.