In an op-ed for Slate, Professor Frank Bowman responds to a New York Times op-ed piece, written by Professors Daniel Hemel and Eric Posner of the University of Chicago Law School, that argues that special counsel Robert Mueller should consider using the Logan Act to indict anyone or impeach the president.
Professor Bowman points out that Mueller and his team have two intertwined objectives: 1) to investigate and prosecute crimes connected with Russian interference in the 2016 election; 2) to ensure that the investigation results will withstand allegations of political bias. He argues that the Logan Act is probably constitutionally overbroad and that using the Logan Act to prosecute any Trump associate would defeat Mueller’s second objective.
Professor Bowman writes, “There are good reasons why the Logan Act has not been successfully invoked in more than 200 years. The primary one is that it is violated routinely and enforcing it would contravene well-established norms of political behavior.”
The Logan Act is a 1799 statute that makes it a crime for a U.S. citizen to contact agents of a foreign government for the purpose either of influencing that government’s policies in disputes with the United States or of defeating U.S. policies.