Links for 3-5-2018

  • John Kerry has been working with Iran’s ambassador to the U.N. and others to rescue the Iranian nuclear deal:

    With the Iran deal facing its gravest threat since it was signed in 2015, Kerry has been on an aggressive yet stealthy mission to preserve it, using his deep lists of contacts gleaned during his time as the top US diplomat to try to apply pressure on the Trump administration from the outside. President Trump, who has consistently criticized the pact and campaigned in 2016 on scuttling it, faces a May 12 deadline to decide whether to continue abiding by its terms.

    Kerry also met last month with German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, and he’s been on the phone with top European Union official Federica Mogherini, according to the source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to reveal the private meetings. Kerry has also met with French President Emmanuel Macron in both Paris and New York, conversing over the details of sanctions and regional nuclear threats in both French and English.

    This is about as blatant a violation of the Logan Act as you’ll find, but Dan McLaughlin argues Congress should repeal the Logan Act.

  • The Guardian reports that the Trump administration hired an Israeli private intelligence company to investigate two Obama administration officials, Ben Rhodes and Colin Kahl, whose work was instrumental on the Iran nuclear deal. The Guardian treats this an unacceptable, but of course was OK for the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee to hire a former MI6 agent (Christopher Steele) to investigate Donald Trump and his campaign, relying on Russian sources for information.

  • Andrew McCarthy argues that Rod Rosenstein and Robert Mueller need to publicly state whether there’s a criminal case against Donald Trump and the nature of that case:

    In every other independent-prosecutor investigation in modern history — Watergate, Iran-Contra, Whitewater/Lewinsky — the president and the public have known exactly what was alleged. The prosecutor was able to investigate with all the secrecy the law allows, but under circumstances in which we all understood what was being investigated and why the president was suspected of wrongdoing.

    After two years, we are entitled to nothing less. The president should direct Rosenstein to outline, publicly and in detail, the good-faith basis for a criminal investigation arising out of Russia’s interference in the election — if there is one. If he can’t, Mueller’s criminal investigation should be terminated; if he can, Mueller should be compelled to explain (unless Rosenstein’s disclosure makes it clear) why he needs to interview President Trump in order to complete his work.

    If Rosenstein and Mueller are reluctant to do that, it can only be because they’ve decided that not only their investigation but also their desire for secrecy take precedence over every other consideration, including the president’s capacity to govern domestically and conduct foreign policy in a dangerous world. But secrecy is not the nation’s top priority. It’s long past time to lay the cards on the table.

  • Two of James Comey’s allies within the FBI, James Baker and Lisa Page, quit their jobs yesterday. Baker is joining the Brookings Institution.

  • The Trump administration plans to end Temporary Protected Status for 86,000 Hondurans who happened to be in the U.S. when Hurricane Mitch hit their home country in 1999. Mark Krikorian writes that Congress needs to reform this program so presidents stop abusing it.

  • Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds signed a fetal heartbeat bill into law, which means Iowa is now the state with the tightest restrictions on abortion. Of course implementation of the law will be blocked while it’s challenged in courts for years.

  • A magnitude 6.9 earthquake hit Hawaii’s big island after Kilauea erupted and sent lava flowing through a housing subdivision.

  • Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny and more 1,000 other protesters were arrested ahead of Vladimir Putin’s inauguration.