A new petition sent to the White House is calling to file charges of treason against 47 senators who wrote a letter to Iran’s leadership, warning that any nuclear deal they sign with President Barack Obama will be void once he leaves office.
“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,” says the petition which can be found on the White House website.
“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,” it adds.
“This is a clear violation of federal law. In attempting to undermine our own nation, these 47 senators have committed treason.”
So far the petition has garnered more than 168,000 signatures and has thus surpassed the stated goal of 100,000.
The letter, written by freshman Senator Tom Cotton and signed by the Senate's entire Republican leadership as well as potential 2016 presidential contenders Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz and Rand Paul, has been criticized by Democrats as well as by Iran itself.
Obama denounced the letter on Monday, saying, "I think it's somewhat ironic to see some members for Congress wanting to make common cause with the hard-liners in Iran. It's an unusual coalition.”
Vice President Joe Biden said in a statement on Monday night the letter was "expressly designed to undercut a sitting president in the midst of sensitive international negotiations" and was "beneath the dignity" of the Senate.
"This letter, in the guise of a constitutional lesson, ignores two centuries of precedent and threatens to undermine the ability of any future American president, whether Democrat or Republican, to negotiate with other nations on behalf of the United States," Biden wrote.
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, a likely Democratic presidential candidate, lambasted the senators who wrote the letter and asked, "And one has to ask, what was the purpose of this letter?" "There appear to be two logical answers. Either these senators were trying to be helpful to the Iranians or harmful to the commander-in-chief in the midst of high-stakes international diplomacy. Either answer does discredit to the letters' signatories," she added.
Iran’s Foreign Minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, claimed that the senators are not educated on international policy and even the United States constitution itself.
"In our view, this letter has no legal value and is mostly a propaganda ploy," Zarif said. "It is very interesting that while negotiations are still in progress and while no agreement has been reached, some political pressure groups are so afraid even of the prospect of an agreement that they resort to unconventional methods, unprecedented in diplomatic history."
"This indicates that like [Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin] Netanyahu, who considers peace as an existential threat, some are opposed to any agreement, regardless of its content," he sniped.