NBC Touts Petition Alleging 47 GOP Senators Committed Treason with Letter to Iran

Unlike ABC and CBS, the NBC Nightly News dedicated a full segment on its Wednesday show to the continued reaction concerning the letter signed by 47 Republican Senators and sent to Iranian leaders. Predictably, the segment took to scolding the GOP by promoting a tweet from Hillary Clinton on the matter as well as a petition which calls for charges to be brought against the signers under the Logan Act.

Interim anchor Lester Holt led things off by announcing that there were some “heated moments” on Capitol Hill when Obama administration officials “came face-to-face with Republicans who signed a letter warning Iran that any nuclear deal that it could strike with the U.S. may not be worth the paper it's printed on.”

National correspondent Peter Alexander then began his report and immediately played up the supposed controversy “[w]ith the White House and congressional Republicans clashing over a nuclear deal with Iran” as Secretary of State John Kerry appeared before a Senate committee where he “blasted the letter” and “called it irresponsible and misleading.”

Following soundbites from Kerry and Republican Senators Bob Corker (Tenn.), Jim Risch (Idaho), and Rand Paul (Ky.), Alexander closed the two-minute segment by touting Clinton’s tweet and the White House petition (more on that in a moment):

Hillary Clinton took aim at potential Republican opponents in 2016, like Rand Paul, tweeting, “[n]o one considering running for commander-in-chief should be signing on.” Tonight, more than 170,000 people have petitioned the administration to file charges against those 47 Republican senators for violating what's called the Logan Act that forbids citizens from negotiating disputes between the U.S. and a foreign government. With that many petitioners by its own rules, the White House will have to respond.

In regards to the petition, here is its full text (emphasis mine):

On March 9th, 2015, forty-seven United States Senators committed a treasonous offense when they decided to violate the Logan Act, a 1799 law which forbids unauthorized citizens from negotiating with foreign governments. Violation of the Logan Act is a felony, punishable under federal law with imprisonment of up to three years.

At a time when the United States government is attempting to reach a potential nuclear agreement with the Iranian government, 47 Senators saw fit to instead issue a condescending letter to the Iranian government stating that any agreement brokered by our President would not be upheld once the president leaves office.

This is a clear violation of federal law. In attempting to undermine our own nation, these 47 senators have committed treason.

Next, in the first of many potholes regarding these allegations, there have been multiple occasions (which I blogged about Tuesday night) in which Democrats have written to and met with foreign leaders in attempts to undermine the foreign policy of Republican presidential administrations. Not surprisingly, there wasn’t an equal amount of outrage in the media when those events occurred.

Any reading of the U.S. Constitution would find that Congress does play a role in foreign affairs and among those responsibilities is the Senate’s job to approve treaties for ratification (as outlined in Article II, Section 2, Clause 2). With that in mind, any international agreement between the executive branch and foreign governments is no more than an executive order.

The relevant portions of the segment from NBC Nightly News on March 11 are transcribed below.

NBC Nightly News
March 11, 2015
7:11 p.m. Eastern

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE CAPTION: Nuclear Fallout]

LESTER HOLT: Heated moments in the nation's capitol today when officials from the Obama administration came face-to-face with Republicans who signed a letter warning Iran that any nuclear deal that it could strike with the U.S. may not be worth the paper it's printed on. We get more on this from NBC's Peter Alexander. 

PETER ALEXANDER: With the White House and congressional Republicans clashing over a nuclear deal with Iran, today, a direct confrontation on Capitol Hill. Secretary of State John Kerry blasting the letter sent by Senate Republicans to Iran's leaders this week. 

SECRETARY OF STATE JOHN KERRY: In my reaction to the letter was utter disbelief. 

ALEXANDER: That letter warns one of America's enemies that any nuclear deal reached with the President and U.S. allies could be undone if it isn't approved by Congress. Kerry called it irresponsible and misleading. 

KERRY: It purports to tell the world that if you want to have any confidence in your dealings with America, they have to negotiate with 535 members of Congress. That is both untrue and profoundly a bad suggestion to make, I think.

(....)

ALEXANDER: This morning on Today, Rand Paul, who signed the letter, insisted it doesn't undermine the President. 

REPUBLICAN SENATOR RAND PAUL (Ky.): We're going to have to get this agreement by Congress and in doing so, maybe the President will negotiate a more appropriate deal. 

ALEXANDER: Hillary Clinton took aim at potential Republican opponents in 2016, like Rand Paul, tweeting, “[n]o one considering running for commander-in-chief should be signing on.” Tonight, more than 170,000 people have petitioned the administration to file charges against those 47 Republican senators for violating what's called the Logan Act that forbids citizens from negotiating disputes between the U.S. and a foreign government. With that many petitioners by its own rules, the White House will have to respond.

Curtis Houck
Curtis Houck
Curtis Houck is the Managing Editor of NewsBusters for the Media Research Center