Last year Joe Biden bragged about how he coerced Ukraine into firing its top prosecutor Victor Shokin by threatening that the Obama administration would pull $1 billion in U.S. loan guarantees from them.
While this type of interference in a foreign government by the then-Vice President of the United States is highly inappropriate in itself, what makes it even worse is that the prosecutor he got fired was probing a firm for which his son Hunter Biden worked.
A phone call between Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko was leaked on Sept. 15 showing the two former leaders discussing what he could and couldn’t tell the incoming Trump administration, with Biden telling the foreign leader that he wants to stay “deeply engaged” in their diplomatic work as a private citizen.
The New York Post leaked the conversation between ex-Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko and vice-President Biden:
At the end of the conversation, while speaking to the then-vice president, Poroshenko could be heard saying that Biden played “an enormous role in bringing peace to my country, and actually save my country. This is my real feeling.”
Biden thanked Poroshenko for his kind words before divulging some of his plans for after he left the White House.
“Well, you’re awfully generous. I don’t plan on going away. As a private citizen, I plan on staying deeply engaged in the endeavor that you have begun and we have begun.
“At least that’s my objective, that’s my objective. But if I go beforehand, I’m worried that they don’t know enough, they will think I’m trying to game them. They will think I am trying to put them in a corner. They will question my motives in going before they are fully briefed. And I’m sure you understand that, you’re a good negotiator,” Biden said toward the end of the leaked conversation.
If you heard the last part of the conversation where Joe Biden says that he will work as a private citizen with another government official.
Maybe it’s time that we invoke the Logan Act.
Even do the Logan Act is a terrible law, and it has never been invoked for a good reason. It was passed in 1799, during a small undeclared naval war, when a Philadelphia Quaker named George Logan attempted to independently negotiate peace between the United States and France. His efforts undermined the political goals of the ruling Federalist Party, and so the law was enacted as a tool to punish anyone else who attempted to follow in Logan’s footsteps.
All which is to say: The very purpose of the Logan Act is to punish political speech that runs counter to the sitting president’s foreign policy goals. Every invocation of the law has been to threaten somebody from an opposing political party for getting involved in foreign policy in a way that displeases whoever has control of the White House. The fact that nobody has actually ever been prosecuted for violating the Logan Act—which would create an opportunity to challenge whether the law itself violates the First Amendment—should be seen as a big red flag whenever it’s mentioned.
But Biden’s action could prove to be enough to invoke the Logan Act: The Logan Act (1 Stat. 613, 18 U.S.C. § 953, enacted January 30, 1799) is a United States federal law that criminalizes negotiation by unauthorized American citizens with foreign governments having a dispute with the United States. The intent behind the Act is to prevent unauthorized negotiations from undermining the government’s position.