Amid the controversy surrounding White House National Security Adviser Michael Flynn’s alleged conversations with Russia, it may be instrumental to recall that representatives for Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign were accused of meeting with Hamas and Iran.
Depending on what took place, the alleged contacts with Iran may have violated the Logan Act, which bars citizens from negotiating with foreign governments in dispute with the United States. It may be questionable whether Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip, legally qualifies as a foreign government.
In 2008, Robert Malley stepped down as an informal foreign policy adviser to Obama’s campaign when it was revealed that he met with Hamas members.
Malley admitted to the meetings, but he claimed he met with the terrorists as part of his private job.
“I have never hidden the fact that I had meetings with Hamas,” Malley wrote in an open letter published in the New York Times. “I do this as part of my job as Middle East program director at the International Crisis Group.”
He said he distanced himself from Obama’s campaign because the Hamas meetings were “becoming a distraction to me and to Senator Obama’s campaign, and to avoid any mis-perception — misrepresentation being the more accurate word — about the candidate’s position regarding the Islamist movement.”
Malley later joined the Obama administration. In 2015, he was appointed to lead the Middle East desk of the National Security Council.
He was also named Obama’s special adviser regarding the Islamic State.