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News Posted on May 11, 2017

Professor Larson Comments for National Post on Trump Staff and Logan Act

Professor Carlton Larson commented for the Canadian newspaper National Post on reports that a Trump administration staff member contacted Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to encourage him to influence President Trump’s stance toward NAFTA. Though Trump had prepared a draft order that would have dismantled the trade agreement, the president changed his position citing a persuasive phone call from Trudeau, leading some to question the propriety of staff attempts to influence the president using a foreign head of state.

Professor Larson said that although the United States has a law, the Logan Act of 1799, prohibiting citizens “without authority of the United States” from trying to influence foreign governments in “disputes or controversies” involving the U.S., the act is ambiguously worded and has never been used to prosecute anyone.

“I don’t think there’s a crime here,” said Larson, adding that “the optics would look terrible” if Trump were to indict a staff member.

Carlton Larson's research interests focus on constitutional law and legal history, with a strong emphasis on the 18th century.