Saturday, December 31, 2016

"The Logan Act" and Donald Trump among others

"Logan Act

An Act for the punishment of certain Crimes therein specified.

Enacted by the 5th United States Congress

Codification; U.S.C. sections created 18 U.S.C. § 953

Legislative history

Introduced in the House by Roger Griswold (F–CT) on December 26, 1798[1]
Passed the House on January 17, 1799 (58–36)
Passed the Senate on January 25, 1799 (18–2)
Signed into law by President John Adams on January 30, 1799

The Logan Act is a United States federal law that forbids unauthorized citizens from negotiating with foreign governments having a dispute with the U.S.

It was intended to prevent the undermining of the government's position.

The Act was passed following George Logan's unauthorized negotiations with France in 1798, and was signed into law by President John Adams on January 30, 1799. The Act was last amended in 1994, and violation of the Logan Act is a felony.

To date, only one person has ever been indicted for violating the act's provisions.

However, no person has ever been prosecuted for alleged violations of the act. February 1941 Under Secretary of State Sumner Welles told the press that former President Herbert Hoover might be a target for prosecution because of his negotiations with European nations over sending food relief.

...In March 2015, 47 Republican senators released an open letter to the Iranian government regarding President Barack Obama's attempts to broker a nuclear arms agreement between Iran and six major powers.  The letter warns Iran of the limitations of President Obama's term in office and constitutional powers and notes that anything done without the advice and consent of the Senate could be undone by the next President. This prompted some commentators to suggest that the letter may have violated the Logan Act.

...In July 2016, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack accused Donald Trump of encouraging the Russian government to hack the email of Hillary Clinton, Trump's opponent in the 2016 Presidential Election. Several other Democratic Senators claimed Trump's comments appeared to violate the Logan Act.  Laurence Tribe, a constitutional law professor at Harvard Law School, also commented on the incident saying, "Trump's "jokes" inviting an adversary to wage cyberwar against the U.S. appear to violate the Logan Act and might even constitute treason."
The Logan Act, codified at 18 U.S.C. § 953, states:

"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, 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.

This section shall not abridge the right of a citizen to apply, himself or his agent, to any foreign government or the agents thereof for redress of any injury which he may have sustained from such government or any of its agents or subjects."
"Congress passed the Logan Act in 1799 banning unauthorised communication intended to influence a foreign government but no one has ever been prosecuted

...It was passed by Congress in an angry backlash when a Pennsylvania state legislator named George Logan went to France, which was in a state of undeclared war with the United States at the time, and successfully negotiated to release impressed American seamen and restore trade between the two countries.

...Congress passed a bill sponsored by the Connecticut representative Roger Griswold (whose other claim to fame was attacking a fellow congressman on the floor of the House of Representatives with a cane) and named after Logan, which prohibited citizens acting “without authority of the United States” from “directly or indirectly” communicating with a foreign government with the “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”.’s often been cited in political debate when members of Congress or other politicians get involved in foreign policy. In recent years, Republicans urged the indictment under the Logan Act of Nancy Pelosi in 2007 for her meeting with the Syrian dictator, Bashar al-Assad, and of the Reverend Jesse Jackson when he visited the Soviet Union in 1984.

...In 1803, a Kentucky farmer named Francis Flournoy was indicted for writing an anonymous newspaper article urging states west of the Appalachian mountains to secede and form an independent country allied with France. However, he was never prosecuted.

...a federal court in 1964 suggested it might be unconstitutionally vague. In other words, Cotton and his fellow senators shouldn’t be too worried about finding a lawyer.

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