Flynn case prompts Reschenthaler’s new proposal to repeal Logan Act

Rep. Guy Reschenthaler

U.S. Rep. Guy Reschenthaler (R-PA) on May 8 introduced legislation to repeal a provision in the Logan Act, a 1799 law that calls for the fine or imprisonment of private citizens who attempt to intervene without authorization in disputes or controversies between the United States and foreign governments. The legislation comes in the aftermath of the Justice Department’s decision to dismiss the case against former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.

Rep. Reschenthaler sponsored the Time to Repeal an Archaic Policy (TRAP) Act, H.R. 6784, with several GOP cosponsors to repeal the law’s provision relating to private correspondence with foreign governments, according to the congressional record summary.

“The Logan Act is a superfluous law that has clearly shown its only utility is in leveraging political opponents via selective prosecutions,” Rep. Reschenthaler said. “I hope my colleagues will join me in supporting the TRAP Act so we can take this archaic law off the books once and for all.”

The intent behind the Logan Act is to prevent unauthorized negotiations from undermining the government’s position. The law in 2017 began receiving renewed interest during the controversy over President Donald Trump’s former national security adviser’s communications with the Russian ambassador to the United States.

Flynn resigned after reports that he had discussed U.S. sanctions against Russia with a Russian official before Trump took office. The Obama administration in December 2016 subsequently imposed sanctions on Russia after U.S. intelligence officials determined that Russia intervened in the 2016 presidential election.

Most recently, the U.S. Department of Justice has moved to drop the case against Flynn, setting the backdrop for Rep. Reschenthaler’s new proposal.

Specifically, newly unsealed internal notes from the Federal Bureau of Investigation show that FBI agents used the Logan Act as a pretext to question Flynn, while knowing that the general would never be charged under the law, according to information provided by Rep. Reschenthaler’s office.

“The 1799 Logan Act, recently used by former Director Jim Comey’s politicized FBI to railroad General Flynn, has become nothing more than a political weapon,” said Rep. Reschenthaler. “The Logan Act flies in the face of our First Amendment right to free speech, as well as our Fifth Amendment Due Process Clause.”

U.S. House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Jim Jordan (R-OH), and U.S. House Intelligence Committee Ranking Member Devin Nunes (R-CA) are among the five original cosponsors of H.R. 6784.

“The Logan Act is an archaic & useless law. In 221 years of existence, only 2 people have been prosecuted under the Act & both were acquitted,” Rep. Reschenthaler tweeted on May 8.