Byron York: Lame-Duck Obama Abused Logan Act to Damage Trump

Mike Flynn, Sally Yates AP Photos
AP Photos

Washington Examiner columnist Byron York has laid out a compelling case against the lame-duck Obama administration, arguing that it abused the obscure Logan Act as a pretext for investigating the incoming Trump administration and “to entangle the new administration in a criminal investigation as soon as it walked in the door of the White House.”

York points out that the interview that led former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn to plead guilty to lying to the FBI was conducted at the behest of Obama administration holdover Sally Yates, who said that she had been concerned about violations of the Logan Act, which prevents private citizens from conducting diplomacy.

The law had never been enforced, York points out, in 218 years of its existence, but somehow it became an urgent concern.

Democrats had talked about the Logan Act over the summer of 2016, York notes, just as they began accusing the Trump campaign of colluding with Russia. They began talking about it again after the election, when President Obama took a parting shot at Israel at the UN Security Council, and President-elect Trump opposed him.

Obama had a habit of punishing those who opposed his Israel policy: he actually spied on Congress during the debate over the Iran deal, and was suspected of pushing the ill-fated prosecution of Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) for that reason.

The outgoing Obama administration took similar umbrage at Trump’s defense of Israel, and may have seen the Logan Act as a way to exact political revenge against Trump for winning the election.

Along the way, York notes, the conversations Flynn had with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak somehow were “unmasked” by someone in the Obama administration and made their way, illegally, to David Ignatius, a columnist at the Washington Post.

York writes:

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.

Read York’s full article here.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He was named one of the “most influential” people in news media in 2016. He is the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.

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