Huffman, Members of Congress: Independent Special Counsel is Needed to Investigate President- Elect Trump’s Violations of Federal Law

January 12, 2017

WASHINGTON- Today, Congressman Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael) led 34 members of Congress in urging Attorney General Loretta Lynch to immediately appoint an independent Special Counsel to investigate President-elect Donald Trump’s apparent violations of the Logan Act, the federal law that prohibits American citizens from conducting unauthorized foreign policy.

“Unless such an independent investigation begins now, under the current administration, it is unlikely to happen because of inherent bias and political pressure under the Trump administration,” wrote the members. “In that event, we may never understand the extent to which Mr. Trump has actively worked with foreign governments to undermine the current foreign policy of the United States, and a dangerous precedent will be established. The United States must only have one President at a time. Our national interests require that the Logan Act be enforced, especially during the delicate and potentially vulnerable period of a Presidential transition.”

The members of Congress specifically called on the Attorney General to appoint an independent Special Counsel to investigate President-elect Trump’s call to Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to persuade him to withdraw a pending United Nations Security Council resolution, Trump’s contact with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen, and his ongoing undermining of the U.S. government’s position regarding Russian cyberattacks.

Enacted in 1799, the Logan Act expressly prohibits American citizens from conducting foreign policy in the name of the United States without authorization, ensuring that the United States speaks with one voice on the world stage. The Attorney General has power to appoint an outside Special Counsel when it would be in the public interest to do so.

In addition to Huffman, the letter calling for an independent Special Counsel was signed by Representatives Pete Aguilar (D-CA), Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR), Michael E. Capuano (D-MA), Kathy Castor (D-FL), Gerald E. Connolly (D-VA), Mark DeSaulnier (D-CA), Lloyd Doggett (D-TX), Mike Doyle (D-PA), Keith Ellison (D-MN), Ruben Gallego (D-AZ), Raúl M. Grijalva (D-AZ), Alcee L. Hastings (D-FL), Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), Joseph P. Kennedy, III. (D-MA), Dan Kildee (D-MI), John B. Larson (D-CT), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Ted W. Lieu (D-CA), Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), Alan Lowenthal (D-CA), Doris Matsui (D-CA), Richard M. Nolan (D-MN), Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ), Ed Perlmutter (D-CO), Scott Peters (D-CA), Chellie Pingree (D-ME), Jamie Raskin (D-MD), Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA), Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Darren Soto (D-FL), Mike Thompson (D-CA), Juan C. Vargas (D-CA), Nydia M. Velázquez (D-NY), and Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ).

In the 114th Congress, Rep. Jared Huffman introduced the One President at a Time Act to amend the Logan Act to ensure that U.S. foreign policy is conducted only by the sitting President, enshrining into law the policy that only one President serves at a time. The “One President at a Time Act” would require that in the period between a Presidential election and the President-elect’s inauguration into office, the President-elect cannot conduct foreign policy matters without the authorization of the United States government.