The Logan Act is officially named in the books as “18 U.S. Code § 953 – Private correspondence with foreign governments”. This barely used law originates from the 18th century, in which, a private citizen named Dr. George Logan directly negotiated with France during the Quasi-War. The law wasn’t proposed by Logan, but made by other law makers to prevent such future actions, by private citizens.
Now in the 21st century this obscure law has popped up again. And why?
Since the ‘guilty plea’ (READ) put forth by former Trump administration National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, the purported leverage Robert Mueller will be using, will be the Logan Act.
During the hearing at which Flynn pleaded guilty, a federal judge disclosed that the retired three-star Army general had agreed to cooperate fully with prosecutors, providing information on “any and all matters” they request, and “substantial assistance for prosecution of another person.”
It’s critical that we determine whether Flynn spoke with the Russians on his own initiative and who knew and approved of his actions,” The Senate Judiciary Committee’s top Democrat, Dianne Feinstein of California, said in a statement.
Here’s how it looks verbatim, in the books:
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.
The language of the act is very broad, so that is the weakness of using this law to prosecute. The law has been referenced several times with arguably the most contested regarding Reagan Vs. Rev. Jesse Jackson in 1984.
Of course, when a law is so ‘broad’, whenever it comes up, it will be a double edged sword. Some say it’s ‘unconstitutional’ and historically the act has been a ‘big stick’ and only been used as a ‘threat’ spearheading to political exercises.