The Trump administration has been a wellspring of legal issues from its inception. The resignation of President Donald Trump’s national security advisor, retired Lt. General Michael T. Flynn, brings an arcane criminal statute known as the Logan Act into national focus. Interestingly, the Logan Act is the result of the actions of a notable citizen of Philadelphia.
During hostilities with France in 1798, Dr. George Logan, a prominent physician and a member of the Pennsylvania legislature, went to Paris and met with officials of the French government. Dr. Logan, well known as a pacifist, engaged those officials in discussions aimed to improve the relations between France and the United States. Shortly after, tensions between the countries eased but likely for other reasons. Nevertheless, the efforts of Dr. Logan received praise in the United States.
The Federalist Party, which was then in power and for partisan reasons, objected to the alleged interference by Dr. Logan in the affairs between France and the United States. As a result, the Logan Act was quickly proposed and enacted in 1799.