Thursday, January 26, 2017

Representative Tulsi Gabbard Says She Met With Syrian Strongman Bashar Assad

At Hot Air, "Dem Rep. Tulsi Gabbard: Why, yes, I met with Assad on my freelance visit to Syria":

My goodness. Logan Act violations are like Bigfoot sightings: Claims are made all the time but they’re never solid enough to convince anyone. In this case, we may have the equivalent of a real-life ‘Squatch in captivity. Quote:
Any citizen of the United States, wherever he may be, who, without authority of the United States, directly or indirectly commences or carries on any correspondence or intercourse with any foreign government or any officer or agent thereof, with intent to influence the measures or conduct of any foreign government or of any officer or agent thereof, in relation to any disputes or controversies with the United States, or to defeat the measures of the United States, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both.
Gabbard went to Damascus not only without the endorsement of leaders in Congress, she went without their knowledge. Paul Ryan and Nancy Pelosi had no idea she was gone until after she’d arrived in Syria. It was the Ohio chapter of the Arab American Community Center for Economic and Social Services that footed the bill for her, apparently, which until today had been another mystery about Gabbard’s trip. Watch the clip below. It sounds like she went to Damascus to lend Assad moral support and to carry back talking points aimed at convincing Americans to take his side. Unless you want to argue that no “dispute” technically exists between the U.S. and Syria, which would be hard given the American aid provided to anti-Assad rebels, how is this not a Logan Act violation? Does being a member of Congress mean by definition that she enjoys the “authority of the United States” in carrying out freelance diplomacy?

A choice bit from her interview with Tapper below:
“When the opportunity arose to meet with [Assad], I did so because I felt it’s important that if we profess to truly care about the Syrian people, about their suffering, then we’ve got to be able to meet with anyone that we need to if there’s a possibility that we could achieve peace,” Gabbard said. “And that’s exactly what we’ve talked about.”
What do you mean “we”? The president speaks for Americans on foreign policy. Last week that was Obama, this week it’s Trump. Meeting with Assad is especially dubious since the U.S. broke off official diplomatic relations with his regime several years ago. It was the judgment of the White House that he’s a sufficiently monstrous human that the United States shouldn’t legitimize him by formally meeting with him. Gabbard, a member of Congress, had other ideas. By what authority does her judgment trump Trump’s?
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