• Thanks for stopping by. Logging in to a registered account will remove all generic ads. Please reach out with any questions or concerns.

Byron York: In Trump-Russia probe, was it all about the Logan Act?


Staff member
Directing Staff
Reaction score
Scott said:
Going forward from here, we reserve the right to move longer posts into said board to, again, keep readability at the highest.

OP: Thucydides

Byron York: In Trump-Russia probe, was it all about the Logan Act?
by Byron York | Dec 3, 2017, 10:06 PM 

The documents outlining Michael Flynn's guilty plea in the Trump-Russia investigation do not allege collusion or conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia to influence the 2016 election. They do, however, suggest that the Obama Justice Department was intensely interested in Flynn's discussions with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak about policy issues — sanctions against Russia, a United Nations resolution on Israel — during the presidential transition, when Barack Obama was still in the White House and Donald Trump was preparing to take office.

At the time, top Justice officials suspected Flynn of violating the Logan Act, the 218-year-old law under which no one has ever been prosecuted, that prohibits private citizens from acting on behalf of the United States in disputes with foreign governments. Starting in the summer of 2016 and intensifying in the transition period, the Logan Act, while mostly unknown to the general public, became a hot topic of conversation among some Democrats. A number of lawmakers, former officials, and commentators called on the Obama administration to investigate the Trump team for a possible Logan Act violations — and to do it while Democrats still controlled the executive branch.

At the same time, inside the Obama Justice Department, it appears the Logan Act became a paramount concern among some key officials in the critical weeks of December 2016 and January 2017. Former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates has told Congress that the Logan Act was the first reason she intervened in the Flynn case — the reason FBI agents were sent to the White House to interview Flynn in the Trump administration's early days. It was that interview, held on Jan. 24, 2017, that ultimately led to Flynn's guilty plea.

In short, there's no doubt the Logan Act, a law dismissed as a joke or an archaic irrelevancy or simply unconstitutional by many legal experts, played a central role in the Obama administration's aggressive and enormously consequential investigation of its successor.

Democrats began accusing Trump of Logan Act violations in the summer of 2016, immediately after the Republican convention, when Trump sarcastically invited Russia to produce the 30,000-plus emails that Hillary Clinton deleted rather than turn over to investigators. "Russia, if you're listening, I hope you're able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing," Trump said during a July 27 news conference. "I think that you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press — let's see if that happens, that'll be nice."

The next day, Tom Vilsack, Obama's secretary of agriculture and on Hillary Clinton's vice presidential short list, accused Trump of violating the Logan Act. "That's a no-no, you can't do that," Vilsack said. "That's not legal."

Following Vilsack was Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill. "I believe it violates the Logan Act," McCaskill said, "and I think he should be investigated for that."

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi called Trump's statement "a treasonous act." Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid said it "borders on treason."

Harvard Law professor Laurence Tribe weighed in the next day. "The Logan Act, which was enacted back in 1799 and fundamentally says that you cannot engage in negotiations with a foreign power," Tribe told MSNBC's Lawrence O'Donnell. "It hasn't been used, but that's because we haven't had very many Donald Trumps, thank God, in our history. I think he's violated that act."

On Aug. 3, two more Democratic senators, Chris Coons and Sheldon Whitehouse, called for a hearing on Trump and the Logan Act. "Mr. Trump's comments implicate U.S. criminal laws prohibiting engagement with foreign governments that threaten the country's interests, including the Logan Act and the Espionage Act," they wrote.

On Aug. 9, Democratic Reps. Patrick Murphy, Andre Carson, and Eric Swalwell called for a House hearing to examine whether Trump violated the Logan Act, among other statutes.

In September, Rep. John Conyers, the top Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, asked the FBI's then-director, James Comey, whether the bureau was investigating Trump for a possible violation of the Logan Act. Comey declined to answer.

At that same hearing, another Democrat, Rep. Ted Deutch, asked Comey about reports that sometime Trump foreign policy advisory board member Carter Page traveled to Moscow in July 2016. "If an American citizen, Director Comey, conducted meetings with a Russian individual who has been sanctioned by the United States about potential weakening of U.S. sanctions policy, in violation of the Logan Act, would the FBI investigate?" Deutch asked.

"I don't think it's appropriate to answer that," Comey responded.

There wasn't much public discussion of the Logan Act in October and November, as the campaign reached its final weeks and the political world dealt with the shock of Trump's victory. The subject re-emerged in December as Democrats, stunned and angry, watched Trump prepare for the presidency — and prepare to undo many of Obama's policies.

On Dec. 8, Democratic Rep. Jared Huffman introduced the "One President at a Time Act of 2016." The bill would have amended the Logan Act to specify that a president-elect, or anyone acting on a president-elect's behalf, was specifically subject to its restrictions. The bill "just makes it explicitly clear that the president-elect is just like every other private citizen during the transition period," Huffmann told MSNBC's O'Donnell. "They can't go around purporting to conduct U.S. foreign policy."

On Dec. 20, Reps. Conyers and Sheila Jackson Lee asked the Justice Department to investigate Trump for a possible violation of the Logan Act.

On Dec. 22, former Obama State Department official Wendy Sherman told MSNBC that Trump's actions on a UN resolution concerning Israeli settlements implicated the Logan Act. "People have said to me today it crosses the line of the Logan Act," Sherman said. "We have one president at a time. And Donald Trump is really playing with fire."

On the day Sherman appeared, Flynn spoke on the phone with Kislyak about that pending U.N. resolution concerning Israeli settlements. "Flynn informed the Russian ambassador about the incoming administration's opposition to the resolution, and requested that Russia vote against or delay the resolution," said the "Statement of the Offense," the Mueller document released with Flynn's guilty plea. The next day, Dec. 23, the two men spoke again and Kislyak informed Flynn that Russia would not do as the Trump team requested.

A few days later, on Dec. 29, Flynn and Kislyak spoke again, according to the Mueller statement. This time the subject was the new sanctions Obama imposed on Russia in retaliation for election meddling. Flynn "requested that Russia not escalate the situation and only respond to the U.S. sanctions in a reciprocal manner."

Two days later, on Dec. 31, Kislyak called Flynn to say that "Russia had chosen not to retaliate in response to Flynn's request."

U.S. intelligence agencies recorded the calls; Kislyak was the subject of American monitoring, so a wiretap on him on these occasions picked up Flynn, too. It appears Obama administration officials immediately saw the Flynn-Kislyak conversations as a possible Logan Act violation. They knew, of course, that given the history of the law, a Logan Act prosecution was a virtual impossibility. They knew that many foreign policy experts would see such contacts between an incoming administration and a foreign power as an acceptable and normal course of business in a presidential transition. Nevertheless, approaching the Flynn-Kislyak talks in the context of a criminal violation — the Logan Act — gave the Obama team a pretense to target Flynn, and thus the new Trump administration.

A critical moment came two weeks later, on Jan. 12, 2017, when the Washington Post's David Ignatius reported the Flynn-Kislyak calls. Ignatius said his source was a "senior U.S. government official." "What did Flynn say, and did it undercut the U.S. sanctions?" Ignatius asked. "The Logan Act (though never enforced) bars U.S. citizens from correspondence intending to influence a foreign government about 'disputes' with the United States."

It was a stunning leak; the existence and content of U.S. spy intercepts are highly, highly classified. But the Obama administration let the information out.

Ignatius' report set off a new round of media discussion about the Logan Act. That led to more action on Capitol Hill. On the same day Ignatius' column appeared, Rep. Huffman, author of the "One President at a Time Act of 2016," joined 34 other House Democrats to urge Attorney General Loretta Lynch to appoint a special counsel to investigate whether Flynn violated the Logan Act. "Our national interests require that the Logan Act be enforced, especially during the delicate and potentially vulnerable period of a presidential transition," Huffman and his colleagues wrote.

The conversation only intensified in the following days. The Logan Act was central to that conversation — in the media, and inside the Obama Justice Department.

On Jan. 24, with the new administration in office just four days, FBI agents interviewed Flynn in the White House. They questioned him about the Kislyak calls, about sanctions, about the U.N. resolution. FBI officials had a transcript of the original conversations to check Flynn's answers against, and the criminal charge against him today stems from the discrepancy between his answers and the transcript. (One of the mysteries of the whole affair is why Flynn would lie about a conversation that he, as a former top intelligence official, should have known was being recorded.)

But why did the Justice Department, run by Obama holdover Sally Yates, decide to interrogate Flynn in the first place? The answer is the Logan Act.

"Yates, then the deputy attorney general, considered Flynn's comments in the intercepted call to be 'highly significant' and 'potentially illegal,' according to an official familiar with her thinking," the Washington Post reported on Feb. 13. "Yates and other intelligence officials suspected that Flynn could be in violation of an obscure U.S. statute known as the Logan Act, which bars U.S. citizens from interfering in diplomatic disputes with another country."

In its version of the story, the New York Times reported that "Obama advisers" were concerned about the Flynn-Kislyak calls. "The Obama advisers grew suspicious that there had been a secret deal between the incoming [Trump] team and Moscow, which could violate the rarely enforced, two-century-old Logan Act barring private citizens from negotiating with foreign powers in disputes with the Unites States," the paper reported. The paper added that the Obama advisers asked the FBI if Flynn and Kislyak had discussed a quid pro quo, only to learn the answer was no.

So even though there was no discussion of a quid pro quo, and even though, as reported in the Post account, Yates knew there was "little chance" of actually bringing a Logan Act prosecution against Flynn — despite all that, Yates went ahead with the questioning of Flynn. And two days after that, Yates, along with an aide, went to the White House to tell counsel Don McGahn that there was a legal problem with the national security adviser.

Yates described the events in testimony before a Senate Judiciary Committee subcommittee on May 8, 2017. She told lawmakers that the Logan Act was the first concern she mentioned to McGahn.

"The first thing we did was to explain to Mr. McGahn that the underlying conduct that Gen. Flynn had engaged in was problematic in and of itself," Yates said. That seems a clear reference to the Logan Act, although no one uttered the words "Logan Act" in the hearing at which Yates testified. "We took him [McGahn] through in a fair amount of detail of the underlying conduct, what Gen. Flynn had done."

Yates and the aide returned to the White House the next day, Jan. 27, for another talk with McGahn. McGahn asked Yates "about the applicability of certain statutes, certain criminal statutes," Yates testified. That led Sen. Chris Coons, who had called for an investigation of the Trump team for Logan Act violations months before, to ask Yates what the applicable statutes would be.

"If I identified the statute, then that would be insight into what the conduct was," Yates answered. "And look, I'm not trying to be hyper-technical here. I'm trying to be really careful that I observe my responsibilities to protect classified information. And so I can't identify the statute."

While Yates became reticent in the witness chair, the public nevertheless knows from that "official familiar with her thinking" that Yates believed Flynn might have violated the Logan Act, a suspicion she shared with other Obama administration officials.

As for another concern that Yates said she had over the Flynn-Kislyak conversations — the worry that Flynn's lie to Vice President Mike Pence (that sanctions were not discussed on the call) would open Flynn up to possible blackmail — perhaps that is a legitimate concern, but why did it warrant FBI questioning of Flynn under the penalty of prosecution for making false statements? Certainly Yates could have warned the White House about that without interrogating Flynn at all.

Instead, it was the prospect of a Logan Act prosecution that led to the FBI interview, which then, when Flynn lied to investigators, led to his guilty plea on a false statements charge.

From today's perspective, nearly a year later, it has become apparent that, farfetched as it might seem, the Logan Act made it possible for the Obama administration to go after Trump. The ancient law that no one has ever been prosecuted for violating was the Obama administration's flimsy pretense for a criminal prosecution of the incoming Trump team.

And by the way, when it finally came time to charge Flynn with a crime, did prosecutors, armed with the transcripts of those Flynn-Kislyak conversations, choose to charge him with violating the Logan Act? Of course not. But for the Obama team, the law had already served its purpose, months earlier, to entangle the new administration in a criminal investigation as soon as it walked in the door of the White House.

OP: Thucydides

Delingpole: Donald Trump Trolls Londonistan Like a Boss…
by JAMES DELINGPOLE1 Dec 20175,631

President Trump has offended pretty much the entirety of Britain’s political and media establishment up to and including the Prime Minister, the Mayor of London and the Archbishop of Canterbury. As a result, the Special Relationship is once more in jeopardy, and Trump has decided to cancel a planned working visit to the United Kingdom.
In a moment I shall explain why the president is right and his critics are wrong. But first a brief recap of what the fuss is all about.

Trump’s critics objected violently – or so they have publicly claimed – to three of his Twitter retweets.

These retweets showed videos, purportedly of members of the Religion of Peace (TM) behaving less than peacefully.

One depicted a bearded Muslim destroying a statue of the Virgin Mary.

One showed an Islamist mob pushing a teenage boy off a roof and then beating him to death.

One showed a white Dutch boy on crutches being gratuitously beaten up by a man described in the video caption as a “Muslim migrant”.

Prime Minister Theresa May; Mayor of London Sadiq Khan; and many other politicians professed themselves to be appalled by this. As was BBC news, which made this horror its lead story.

But it wasn’t the sadistic brutality on any of the videos that bothered them. It was the fact that the person whose tweets the President had retweeted, Jayda Fransen, is the deputy of a nationalistic, anti-immigration political party highly critical of Islam called Britain First.

According to Prime Minister Theresa May this was a grave mistake.

She said:
I am very clear that retweeting from Britain First was the wrong thing to do.

“Britain First is a hateful organisation. It seeks to spread division and mistrust in our communities. It stands in fundamental opposition to the values that we share as a nation – values of respect, tolerance and, dare I say it, common decency.”

Some politicians went further.

London’s Muslim mayor, Sadiq Khan, sought to use Trump’s tweet as an excuse to promote his ongoing campaign to prevent the President being granted a State Visit to London.

President Trump has used Twitter to promote a vile, extremist group that exists solely to sow division and hatred in our country. It's increasingly clear that any official visit from President Trump to Britain would not be welcomed. pic.twitter.com/oZ1Kt0JCfY

— Sadiq Khan (@SadiqKhan) November 30, 2017

Chris Bryant – a Labour MP better known as “Captain Underpants” because he posted “sexy” photographs of himself on a gay dating site wearing nothing but his white briefs – accused the president of “supporting and condoning fascism”.

Yesterday I wrote to the Prime Minister asking her to ban Donald Trump from entering the United Kingdom on account of his support for far-right groups in this country. pic.twitter.com/K8iC5yAJTR

— Chris Bryant (@RhonddaBryant) November 30, 2017

The BBC devoted large chunks of its news bulletins to excoriating the President’s behavior. Much was made of the fact that the mentally ill man who murdered Jo Cox MP during the Brexit campaign in June 2016 shouted “Britain First” as he committed his vile deed. Jo Cox’s widowed husband – a left-wing campaigner called Brendan Cox – was given space to fulminate against the president.

President Trump, however, has remained unrepentant.

Here is how he responded to Theresa May’s dressing down:

.@Theresa_May, don’t focus on me, focus on the destructive Radical Islamic Terrorism that is taking place within the United Kingdom. We are doing just fine!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 30, 2017

Now let me explain why, far from being a stupid, irresponsible, unpresidential move – as Britain’s chattering classes would have us believe – Trump’s tweets were in fact tactically astute.

Donald Trump, as many of us here know, is a much underrated figure in certain quarters.

If you think this is true in the U.S., you should try living in Britain – or in Ireland where, last weekend, I found myself in the extremely lonely position of defending his record at Dublin’s Festival of Politics. [You can hear more about some of my Irish adventures on my latest podcast]

Virtually none of my colleagues, even in the conservative media, has a good word to say about him. They think of him in all the usual leftist cliches: that he’s crass, vulgar, dumb, brash and so on. They think that those few of us who defend him – like me, Katie Hopkins, Nigel Farage, Jacob Rees-Mogg, David Pryce-Jones, Daniel Johnson and a handful of others – only do so because we are attention-seeking loons.

What they misunderstand about Trump is the scale of his ambitions and the true nature of his mission.

As I argue in this week’s Spectator, he represents the same revolt of the masses against the liberal elite we saw with Brexit. His mission is vital:

That mission, domestically, is to Make America Great Again. But his ambitions, I believe, are even greater than that. As he outlined in his brilliant Warsaw speech, he sees himself as the defender of not just the free world, but of western civilisation itself.

‘We write symphonies. We pursue innovation. We celebrate our ancient heroes, embrace our timeless traditions and customs, and always seek to explore and discover brand-new frontiers. We reward brilliance. We strive for excellence, and cherish inspiring works of art that honour God. We treasure the rule of law and protect the right to free speech and free expression. We empower women as pillars of our society and of our success. We put faith and family, not government and bureaucracy, at the centre of our lives. And we debate everything. We challenge everything.’

President Trump’s Warsaw Speech – the most important speech any president has made since Ronald Reagan’s 1987 “Mr Gorbachev, tear down this wall” – established him as Western Civilization’s White Knight. No other leader anywhere in the Western world – certainly not Angela Merkel or the insipid Theresa May – speaks up for our values (the wisdom of the Ancients, infused with Judaeo-Christian morality, filtered through the skepticism and scientific experiment of the Enlightenment, made prosperous by global trade and the Industrial Revolution) in such a forthright and unapologetic way.

It might seem a stretch to argue that Trump’s recent trio of trolling retweets of Muslims-behaving-badly videos have much to do with this noble mission.

But cometh the man, cometh the hour. President Trump is no ordinary leader and he most certainly does not play by the conventional rules.

A key facet of his modus operandi is the way he manages to bypass a generally hostile media and speak directly to his constituency – essentially ordinary people who’ve had just about enough of politically correct nonsense – using social media.

Straight laced conservatives deplore this. They think it’s undignified. Even that it trivializes the presidential office and undermines Trump’s mission.

On the contrary, as Vox Day persuasively demonstrates in his new book SJWs Always Double Down , Trump wields Twitter like a cross between a surgeon’s scalpel and a theater commander’s Daisycutter bomb.

So, cut to the chase, what was Trump doing with these tweets?

First, let’s just establish what he was NOT doing:

Winning the hearts and minds of radical Muslims; making liberals love and respect him more; getting nice coverage in the Guardian and the New York Times; persuading Never Trumpers that they might have misjudged him; winning over Theresa May and the rest of the faux-Conservative political class.

No. Trump doesn’t give a damn for any of these people. (And who can blame him?)

Instead he was sending a message to the people he cares about: all those ordinary people out there, not just in the U.S. but in Europe and beyond, who are shocked, appalled, scared by the way their countries are slowly (or quite quickly in the case of some countries, Sweden, for example) surrendering to Islam; who feel betrayed by the pusillanimity of their political leaders and let down by the failure of most of their media to report on the rapes and the sexual grooming and the violence being committed disproportionately by Muslims, both immigrants and home-grown radicals; who feel unable to speak – except in embarrassed whispers – about their fears about being stabbed or machine-gunned or blown up or mown down by yet another jihadist simply for the crime of going about their daily, Western life; who bitterly resent being tarred as Islamophobic or xenophobic or uncaring when all they want is to be allowed to live their life in peace in a country whose traditions, laws and cultural values remain the ones they grew up with and which make their homeland worth living in.

These are the people Trump was reaching out to with those tweets.

As for the rest – all those politicians and media types and cry bully activist groups – they just fell into Trump’s trap.

Trump wanted them to react in the way they did. It was part of his strategy. If you don’t understand why – if you’re one of those “sophisticated” analysts who persists in persuading yourself that Trump is just an idiot, in the way the same people used to say about Ronald Reagan – then, again, I recommend you spend time reading Vox Day’s book.

But if you want the short version, ask yourself this: how do you think most ordinary people – the ones outside the politically correct politics/media bubble – responded when they saw the president’s tweets?

Did they go

a) “I heard some people on the BBC tell me that Britain First are far right and far right is, like, the worst thing ever. So by retweeting them Donald Trump was literally endorsing fascism!”


b) “Trump gets it. Why don’t the other politicians get it?”

I suspect it’s mainly the latter.

Let me be clear: I’d feel very different about this video footage if it had been cynically staged by evil fascists to make nice Muslims look bad. If that were the case it would be wrong and needlessly inflammatory.

But I don’t think even President Trump’s most virulent detractors are saying that, are they?

Sure there have been quibbles about some details. The Dutch police have even gone so far as to claim that the guy attacking the boy on crutches wasn’t an immigrant and wasn’t even a Muslim. Well even this is the case – and remember, the EU authorities are notorious for their politically correct cover ups – no one is doubting the veracity of the other two videos, other than to point out that they’re over five years old (as if that changed anything).

Put it this way: if you ask yourself the question “Are these videos representative of behavior currently being enacted across Europe, the Middle East and beyond by members of the Religion of Peace?” you’d have to be pretty naive to answer anything but “yes!”

Yes, that boy on the roof – Hamada Badr, his name was, and he was 19 years old – really was pushed off and beaten to death by an Islamist mob, one carrying the black Al Qaeda flag, in Alexandria in 2013. Yes, countless other men have been pushed off roofs and killed by ISIS and similar groups for such anti-Islamic crimes as being gay.

Yes, the man smashing the Virgin Mary statue does exist. His name is – or was – Sheikh Omar Raghba. He was recorded in Syria and he tells the camera:

Allah willing, Allah alone will be worshipped in the Levant, which will be ruled only by the law of Allah.

‘The idols will be worshipped no more in the Levant, Allah willing.

‘We shall accept nothing but Allah, his religion, and the Sunnah of his prophet.’

Sheikh Omar’s attitudes are hardly unusual. Islam is quite explicitly a religion of conquest whose very name means “Submission”. And its treatment of its religious rivals (as it sees them) quite often extends to doing far worse than merely smashing Marian statues. Think of all the Yazidis and Christians and Shia raped and murdered by Islamic State in Syria and Iraq; think of the 305 Sufi worshippers murdered earlier this month in their mosque in the Sinai.

So what, exactly, was Trump doing wrong by tweeting videos drawing attention to these issues?

None of his detractors has successfully answered this question.

That is because they do not have an answer.

Some of us here in Britain – many if not most of us, I suspect – are continually pinching ourselves in disbelief at what our country has become in so short a space. It seems only yesterday that we used to be able to walk over Westminster Bridge or go shopping round Borough Market or go to a pop concert without for one second having to worry about the possibility of being murdered by Islamic terrorists; that boys and girls in headscarves were never segregated in inner city schools and taught to despise Jews and other kuffar; that the correct response to mass rape was mass arrest not mass cover ups; that Britain believed in equality before the law not in separate Sharia courts for certain communities; that a supermarket worker who told his boss “I can’t serve alcohol to customers” would be told in no uncertain terms either to do his job or move on elsewhere…

The story is the same across continental Europe, from Austria to Sweden to Germany to France and the beaches of Greece, Italy and southern Spain.

But has our political class responded to our concerns about this menace to our values, our cultural cohesion and our safety?

On the contrary. It has either ignored the problem altogether. Or doubled down on it, as Angela Merkel did in 2015 when she decided to enrich her country, whether it liked it or not, with another million or so Muslim “refugees”. Or – as in the case of all this confected outrage about Britain First (a tiny organisation about which few people either know or care) – they go: “Look, a squirrel!”, in the hope that people will politely join them in pretending that there isn’t a problem, thus relieving themselves of the burden of having to deal with it.

The U.S. was nearly as bad, of course, till Trump came along and said: “Enough is enough.” Which, of course, is one of the main reasons he is now president. He understood, as so many of our chatterati still do not, that there is a yawning gulf between where our political class are on the subject of immigration and Islam, and where the man and woman in the street are.

Trump sticks out like a sore thumb at the moment not because he is dangerous maverick but, on the contrary, because he is the only truth teller in a world of lies.

NavyShooter said:


Thucydides deserves the credit. We just link and move them to Articles and Large Posts.  :)

As per, "Going forward from here, we reserve the right to move longer posts into said board to, again, keep readability at the highest."
OK, I took the time to read them now...they were long, but interesting.