The Logan Act was enacted in 1799, during the John Adams administration.
Its provisions are clear: No citizen shall — other than the president of the United States — shall negotiate with another government or presume to speak for the U.S. government.
Here is what it says:
“Any citizen of the United States, wherever he may be, who, without authority of the United States, directly or indirectly commences or carries on any correspondence or intercourse with any foreign government or any officer or agent thereof, with intent to influence the measures or conduct of any foreign government or of any officer or agent thereof, in relation to any disputes or controversies with the United States, or to defeat the measures of the United States, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both.”
So, here’s the question: Did the 47 Republican U.S. senators who signed the letter to Iranian government officials seeking to discourage Iran from approving a nuclear disarmament treaty with the United States violate the Logan Act?
Some folks are beginning to suggest that the letter’s intent is so egregious that the senators might have committed a near-treasonous act.
President Obama is seeking to negotiate a deal that ends Iran’s nuclear program. The senators are telling Iran that whatever treaty approved might become invalid once the president leaves office on Jan. 20, 2017. The GOP lawmakers are encouraging the Iranians to oppose the treaty.
There appears to be some serious undermining of the president’s authority to negotiate a treaty. Yes, the Senate has the right to disapprove of the treaty once it’s finalized. However, to interfere in the midst of negotiations? That job belongs to the president of the United States — and no one else.
Message to the Senate Republicans: Butt the hell out!