Former President Donald Trump's tweets appear to have prompted a Department of Justice investigation of John Kerry, according to a new book.
Geoffrey Berman, who served two and a half years as U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, wrote a new book, “Holding the Line,” that describes the pressure Trump put on federal investigators to prosecute his enemies -- including Kerry, who had private conversations with Iranians and other officials about the nuclear accord, according to excerpts published by the New York Times.
“The conduct that had annoyed the president was now a priority of the Department of Justice," Berman wrote.
Trump began tweeting attacks on Kerry, the former Massachusetts senator who negotiated the Iran nuclear deal as Barack Obama's secretary of state, in spring 2018, calling his reported talks after leaving public service “possibly illegal Shadow Diplomacy” before withdrawing from the accord.
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The Justice Department told Berman on May 9, 2018, that his office would be responsible for investigating Kerry's conduct with Iran, and that the FBI would join the probe, and he said it was clear why the case was being opened.
“No one needed to talk with Trump to know what he wanted," Berman said. "You could read his tweets.”
Kerry never learned of the investigation and it never leaked to the media, but he said the Justice Department called months later, after Trump accused Kerry of violating the Logan Act in an April 22, 2019, tweet, and asked why SDNY was delaying an order to review information about Kerry's electronic communications, and a more senior official followed up the next day on the issue.
"They were asking us, basically, what’s taking so long?" Berman wrote. "Why aren’t you going harder and faster at this enemy of the president? There was no other way for me to look at it."
Berman said the pattern was "clear -- and outrageous," and he told DOJ after nearly a year of investigation that he would not prosecute Kerry, and a short time later a senior adviser to attorney general Bill Barr said he would take the case to another U.S. attorney's office in Maryland, which also reached the same conclusion.
"The Kerry investigation just quietly died — as it should have," Berman wrote.
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