John Boehner may be a traitor.
On Wednesday, the Speaker of the House confirmed that he had invited Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to come speak to Congress, “on the grave threats radical Islam and Iran pose to our security and way of life.”
The announcement just so happens to come as Republicans in Congress are pushing for new sanctions against Iran, which threaten current diplomatic negotiations with that country.
As of now, Netanyahu is expected to speak to a joint session of Congress in March, while he’s in the US for the annual AIPAC conference.
So, why is Boehner’s invitation to Netanyahu such a big deal?
First off, it’s a huge violation of protocol and massively disrespectful to President Obama and the authority of the executive branch.
It is completely unprecedented for the Speaker of the House, or any member of Congress, to invite a foreign leader to come to the US and speak to Congress without getting authorization and/or cooperation from the White House.
As Guy Ziv, a professor at American University who has studied US-Israeli relations told TPM, “It’s unprecedented. It’s hitting below the belt. It’s taking partisanship to a whole new level.”
By inviting Netanyahu to speak to Congress without the authority of the executive branch, Speaker Boehner is badly blurring the lines of national sovereignty, and again massively disrespecting typical protocol.
But, more importantly, he may be in violation of a number of laws, which may make him a traitor.
So, let’s take a look at a few legal possibilities where the Speaker’s actions may be considered criminal.
First, you could make a case that by inviting Netanyahu to speak to Congress without authority from the executive branch, Speaker Boehner is committing an act of sedition.
Sedition is defined as conduct or speech inciting people to rebel against the authority of a state or monarch.
However, it would be hard to prove that by inviting Netanyahu to speak to Congress, Boehner is trying to incite Americans to rebel against our nation; he’s just using a foreign leader to lobby for his own legislation.
This is why a better case for Boehner’s criminal conduct can be made under the Logan Act.
Established back in 1799, the Logan Act makes it illegal for unauthorized American citizens to negotiate with foreign governments.
Violation of the act is a felony, and comes with a punishment of up to three years in prison.
In order to prosecute Boehner under the Logan Act, there would have to be sufficient proof that he was acting “without authority” when he asked Netanyahu to come and speak to Congress, and that “authority” isn’t specified in the law, although at the time it was passed, it was clearly intended to be held in the hands of President John Adams, who was furious that members of Congress were talking to French politicians.
It’s also possible that Boehner is in violation of Federal Elections Commission (FEC) law.
Section 441e of FEC law makes it illegal for, “a person to solicit, accept, or receive a contribution or donation” from a foreign national.
In other words, if Speaker Boehner were to accept campaign money from Netanyahu, or use the speech to help raise money for Republicans in any way, he would be guilty of violating FEC law. Somebody needs to look into this, particularly to see if the hands of any of the Republican billionaires who obsess on Israel issues are involved in this.
Section 441e also makes it illegal for “a foreign national, directly or indirectly, to make a contribution or donation of money or other thing of value, or to make an express or implied promise to make a contribution or donation, in connection with a Federal, State or local election.”
How is this speech not a thing of value to the Republicans?
The bottom line here is that, by inviting Prime Minister Netanyahu to speak to Congress, Speaker Boehner may have broken any number of laws, and the Department of Justice needs to investigate.
And even if no criminal activity is found, we can’t forget how massively disrespectful this move by Boehner is.
Can you imagine Congress doing something like this to John Kennedy?
Or even to George W. Bush?
What if Nancy Pelosi had invited Saddam Hussein to address Congress back in 2002?
Don’t you think Bush would have tried to prosecute her? Or at least get her impeached?
So at the very least Speaker Boehner is massively disrespecting the executive branch.
But, by blurring the lines of sovereignty, he may have also have fulfilled John Adams’ worse dreams and, in the process, turned himself into a traitor.
The stakes have never been higher (and our need for your support has never been greater).
For over two decades, Truthout’s journalists have worked tirelessly to give our readers the news they need to understand and take action in an increasingly complex world. At a time when we should be reaching even more people, big tech has suppressed independent news in their algorithms and drastically reduced our traffic. Less traffic this year has meant a sharp decline in donations.
The fact that you’re reading this message gives us hope for Truthout’s future and the future of democracy. As we cover the news of today and look to the near and distant future we need your help to keep our journalists writing.
Please do what you can today to help us keep working for the coming months and beyond.