This bill — known as the One President at a Time Act — would amend the Logan Act to clarify that the president-elect cannot conduct foreign policy matters without the authorization of the U.S. government. The Logan Act forbids unauthorized citizens from negotiating with foreign governments in a way that undermines the U.S. government’s position, and violating it is a felony.
What is House Bill H.R. 6511?
Cost of House Bill H.R. 6511
In-Depth: Sponsoring Rep. Jared Huffman (D-CA) introduced this bill to prevent a president-elect from interfering in U.S. foreign policy before they take office:
“Not only is it an unacceptable intrusion for a President-elect to start engaging in foreign policy matters before they are in office — let alone before they are fully briefed on complex and fragile geopolitical situations — it is dangerous and harms America’s standing in the world.”
Of Note: There has been only one person who has ever been indicted for violating the provisions of the Logan Act, but that was in 1803 and no one has ever actually been prosecuted. That being said, there have been numerous occasions where questions have been raised about whether an individual’s actions violated the Logan Act.
During the 1980s, Reverend Jesse Jackson and House Speaker Jim Wright (D-TX) frustrated the Reagan administration through their travels and discussions with the government of Nicaragua, but neither allegation was pursued. Then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) was the subject of legislation that sought to prohibit her from using federal funds to travel to countries considered by the U.S. to be state sponsors of terror after meeting with Syria’s government, but the amendment wasn’t adopted.
More recently, 47 Republican senators wrote a letter to Iran’s government in 2015 warning them of the limitations of his constitutional authority to bind the U.S. to international agreements beyond his presidency while the nuclear agreement was being negotiated, prompting unsuccessful calls for their prosecution under the Logan Act. And in July 2016, many Democrats accused then-presidential candidate Donald Trump of violating the Logan Act by encouraging the Russian government to hack Hillary Clinton’s email.
One President at a Time Act of 2016
To amend section 953 of title 18, United States Code (commonly called the Logan Act) to clarify the application of that section to Presidents-elect.
- Not enactedThe President has not signed this bill
- The senate has not voted
- The house has not voted
Committee on the JudiciaryCrime, Terrorism and Homeland SecurityIntroducedDecember 8th, 2016
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