Have 47 Republican Senators Committed a Crime? Yep.

How do I put this…

WagstaffI have repeatedly proven that the Republican Party is a bunch of incompetent boobs, who don’t really care about you. I’ve implied many times that they are somewhat un-American in their approach, although when it comes to calling someone “un-American” I tend to hold back a bit, because that’s a serious charge as far as I’m concerned.

But now, I can say it. The Republican Party is officially un-American. And this time, it’s not hyperbolic. While most of the time they look and sound like a bunch of middle school idiots jumping up and down to get noticed, what they did this morning goes much farther, and actually lightly touches the dark underbelly of what most of us would consider “treason.” And if you think I’m reticent to call anyone “un-American,” imagine how queasy I feel using that term to describe members of our government, regardless of their party.

Today, someone wrote a letter on official U.S. Senate letterhead and 47 Republican senators signed it. The letter, addressed to the “Leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran” (what; they don’t know who runs the country?) essentially undermined the efforts of the Executive Branch – the only branch of government that is charged by the Constitution with negotiating with foreign powers, by the way – by telling the Iranians that they will essentially vote down any agreement they come to. To say such a letter is unprecedented is a major understatement. Not only does it usurp the Executive Branch’s authority on foreign policy, but it reads like a middle school rant. There is no commentary on any of the details of the agreement, it makes no suggestions as to conditions it might be willing to accept, or even a list of conditions that might doom it. It basically says, echoing the immortal words of Professor Wagstaff, “Whatever it is, I’m against it.”

Senate Letter IranThis is the current version of your Republican Party, folks. They are childish, petulant and will do anything to undermine President Obama, even to the point of using a condescending tone to speak to the leadership of a foreign country that has been willing to enter into negotiations to reduce or eliminate its nuclear ambitions, even though it is obviously under no obligation to do so.

What does the Republican leadership hope to accomplish with this? For that matter, why did that bring Bibi Netanyahu into the Capitol without clearing it with the Executive Branch – again, the only branch of government that is constitutionally charged with conducting foreign policy – first?

There’s something seriously wrong here, and I mean seriously wrong. The Senate’s only power, according to the Constitution Republicans claim to love and adore so much, is to “advise and consent.” That means, they can make recommendations to the President of things they would like to see in a treaty, and they can ultimately vote down the treaty if they don’t like what’s in it. But for 47 Republicans to claim they won’t accept any agreement – presumably even if it contains a complete dismantling of the nuclear program and an apology and a few billion dollars aid to Israel – is not only unprecedented, it’s dangerous. This goes way beyond the concept of “advise and consent” and actually undermines foreign policy.

This letter is not just a poke in the eye of diplomacy, it’s also a violation of the law. According to the Logan Act, anyone who acts “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.” (Source)

And before some of you quibble over the concept that US Senators are “the “authority” mentioned above, I will reiterate; the only branch of government authorized to deal with foreign governments is the Executive Branch. This letter is addressed to a foreign government’s leadership, and it is designed to weaken our government’s position with regard to another country. That makes it a violation of the law, unless they can show us the document from the President authorizing the letter’s transmission.

We’re either a nation of laws, or we’re not. The US Senate has no legal standing to involve themselves in the nuts and bolts of foreign policy, and they certainly have no power to assert a position that is contrary to official US foreign policy. These 47 Republican Senators have gone way beyond mere incompetence this time – they have publicly proclaimed their opposition to anything the current US government might be able to negotiate on our behalf. There is nothing to say about this except that it’s just plain wrong.

It’s time to call these people out for what they are. They are incompetent, they are power crazy and now, they’re proving to be dangerous. How did we get from Reagan and Bush 41 negotiating nuclear treaties with the Soviets to the entire GOP deciding that Iran is too dangerous to ever negotiate with?

Iran is more dangerous than the old Soviet Union? Think about that for a moment.

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  1. I kind of hope that the fact that Iran’s foreign Minister has made fun of them by pointing out their bullshit might at least embarrass some republicans and give them cause for pause. Other than that, it may depend on what we want to do about it and how many of us give voice to our disgust and disdain for these republicans. To that end, someone has created this: https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/file-charges-against-47-us-senators-violation-logan-act-attempting-undermine-nuclear-agreement/NKQnpJS9
    The other thing is that maybe it would be helpful to insist that those republicans who did NOT sign on to the letter speak out publicly against it AND their colleagues. I hope someone smarter than me can figure out how to get some advantage out of this latest republican fiasco,

  2. I agree in principle, but not one blessed human being has EVER been prosecuted under the Logan Act. I’m highly dubious that taking on 47 members of the Senate to prosecute them for this horrific breech of the Constitution will be possible. I would hope so, but as with impeachment, the damage done to the nation while the focus is on the courts would be deeply scary. I just don’t know what one does in such instances of outrageous illegality. The administration is damned either way. I do not think these 47 should get off scott free, but the litigation over this action – one they could argue was meaningless as a real threat to negotiations since they did NOT address anyone by name – would be a huge weight on us all.

    I don’t have an answer. I just know somehow, some way, they should pay for this outrage, but I’m not at all clear how that should be done.

    If ever there was a reason to vote – keeping these people out of office is it. I guess if they could take on Clinton over a private matter, we shouldn’t shy away, but I’m thinking the good ol’ boy defense line could make this backfire on us and give aid and comfort to the 47 rather than finding real justice in America. Had voters shown an iota of care about who got into office, I’d think very differently about this than I do. But then the 47 would not have done this, and it would be a moot point.

    Anyone have a good scenario and good outcome please let us know?

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