Netizens cite Logan Act violation as Trump's anti-Iran threat resurfaces - Hindustan Times
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Netizens cite Logan Act violation as Trump's anti-Iran threat resurfaces

Apr 15, 2024 12:13 AM IST

Has Donald Trump violated the Logan Act with his threats to Iran? Divided netizens debate over the heated issue.

Former US President Donald Trump marched to his social media platform, Truth Social, after Iran's Saturday Israel attack to spell out how he felt about the menacing situation. Instead of wording a fresh message, he resorted to reposting an all-caps tweet from 2018, in which he laid down a direct threat to the then-President of Iran, Hassan Rouhani.

Former US President Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally at the Schnecksville Fire Hall in Schnecksville, Pennsylvania, US, on Saturday, April 13, 2024. Trump on Friday offered support for embattled House Speaker Mike Johnson who is fighting to keep his job under pressure from ultraconservative lawmakers, seeking to tamp down on divisions in the Republican caucus. Photographer: Hannah Beier/Bloomberg(Bloomberg)
Former US President Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally at the Schnecksville Fire Hall in Schnecksville, Pennsylvania, US, on Saturday, April 13, 2024. Trump on Friday offered support for embattled House Speaker Mike Johnson who is fighting to keep his job under pressure from ultraconservative lawmakers, seeking to tamp down on divisions in the Republican caucus. Photographer: Hannah Beier/Bloomberg(Bloomberg)

His old tweet reads: “To Iranian President Rouhani: NEVER, EVER THREATEN THE UNITED STATES AGAIN OR YOU WILL SUFFER THE CONSEQUENCES THE LIKES OF WHICH FEW THROUGHOUT HISTORY HAVE EVER SUFFERED BEFORE. WE ARE NO LONGER A COUNTRY THAT WILL STAND FOR YOUR DEMENTED WORDS OF VIOLENCE & DEATH. BE CAUTIOUS!”

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Trump's original tweet was a response to the former Iranian president's warning that the US' escalating tensions with them would churn out the “mother of all wars.” The 77-year-old 45th US President's alarming words are a testament to his compulsive habit of jumping into rash methods of intimidation. During his presidential run, he infamously built his identity around similar hasty enactments of his foreign policy, which was correlated with his direction of maintaining close ties with figures like Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong Un.

Internet users have once again perceived his latest online move as representative of his customary ways of undermining the powers and foundation of Western administration. Many have viewed his act of intercepting other American figures in power in his attempts to supersede the authority of present-day President Joe Biden as a violation of the Logan Act.

Along with resharing his old tweet on social media, Trump addressed Iran's attack on Israel at a Saturday Pennsylvania rally as well. While mentioning that the US was in full support of Israel and praying for the country, he also added: "The weakness that we've shown is unbelievable, and it would not have happened if we were in office. You know that. They know that, and everybody knows that."

Also read | US issues grave warning to Iran after retaliatory attack on Israel, hints at ‘what we would do’ if…

Other GOP politicians also followed suit in highlighting Biden's lacking resolve in the situation. House Speaker Mike Johnson's tweet read: "The Biden Administration’s undermining of Israel and appeasement of Iran have contributed to these terrible developments." Rick Scott, a US Senator from Florida, also reposted Trump's 2018 tweet and extolled it in a new tweet: “This is the strength that we need back in the White House.”

While Trump resourcefully used the forbidding matter at hand to his advantage to gain the public's favour so he could win a second term on this year's Election Day, not all netizens warmed up to his Truth Social update.

Has Trump violated the Logan Act with his threat to Iran: Netizens react

Seth Abramson, New York Times-bestselling journalist and lawyer who wrote the book Proof of Conspiracy: How Trump's International Collusion Is Threatening American Democracy. His 2019 book alleged “a pre-election geopolitical conspiracy involving Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Israel, and Russia that sought to put Trump in the White House.”

What is the Logan Act?

The very old (18th century) and rarely invoked federal statute prohibits unauthorised private diplomacy with foreign nations.

It 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, 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.”

Also read | Survey: Biden almost caught up with Trump's early polling popularity

Abramson dove into a lengthy explanation of why that is the case, entitling his tweet: “MAJOR BREAKING NEWS: In Criminal Violation of Logan Act, Former President Donald Trump Attempts to Supercede Authority of U.S. President Joe Biden and Threaten Iran’s President Directly.”

In his long thread of accusations spread out over several tweets, he directly appealed to the FBI to “star investigating right now," labelling Trump's acts as “federal crimes that could lead America into a *hot war*.”

An army of netizens flocked in agreement and called for the issue to be investigated. Comments like "EVERYONE NEEDS TO GET "LOGAN ACT" trending. Trumpy may have literally committed treason against the United States for acting as the president, which is absolutely not. @FBI arrest him!" and “We have one president at a time. And speaking on behalf of America in a post on a social network is not only unbecoming of a presidential candidate, it undermines the effort of this president and could start a war. If this is against the law, I hope the DOJ moves swiftly!” followed.

On the contrary, others reminded Abramson that Rouhani was no longer the president of Iran. Similar messages poured in, highlighting that those words were extracted from an old tweet, so Trump couldn't be charged on the basis of the Logan Act. “Nope. Reminding people of a previous threat he'd made is not the same as making a fresh threat. In any event, he could probably challenge the application of the Logan Act in multiple ways, including under the First Amendment, the act is old and has rarely been enforced,” wrote an X user.

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