Tags: Barack Obama | Iran | rob portman | james risch | republican | senators | letter

GOP Sens. Portman, Risch: No Regrets Over Signing Iran Letter

By    |   Tuesday, 10 March 2015 07:43 PM

Two of the 47 Republican senators who signed an open letter to the leadership of Iran say they were right to do so, and that the Senate should have a say in any nuclear agreement.

The two shrugged off claims that they are traitors or that they are helping the Iranian government.

The New York Daily News ran a front-page headline calling the group traitors, suggesting the letter violates the Logan Act of 1799, which prohibits any American citizen from influencing the negotiations of the United States and a foreign government without U.S. government approval.

But only one case has been brought under the Logan Act – in 1803 – and it didn't result in a conviction.

Sen. James Risch of Idaho, one of the signatories, told CNN's "The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer" that the Logan Act isn't even legal since it violates the First Amendment right to free speech.

Risch also dismissed former secretary of State Hillary Clinton's claim on Tuesday that the senators' motives were either to help Iran or hurt President Barack Obama.

"We've obviously hit a tender nerve for them to be reaching like that," Risch said. "It's nonsense to say that any U.S. senator is a friend of Iran."

Risch said he's been "called a lot worse, " and that "We're doing what we believe is in the best interest of the American people."

Seven Republican senators declined to sign the letter, which tells Iran's government that any deal signed by the administration is void if not approved by Congress and that any future president can reverse it with the stroke of a pen.

Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona was one of those who didn't sign, but told Blitzer he doesn't approve of the deal; he just thinks the timing is wrong to write such a letter.

Risch says he understands those concerns, but that the White House is trying to keep Congress out of the talks.

He said members of Congress from both parties frequently travel to meet with world leaders and discuss foreign policy, so the letter is nothing new.

Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio agreed, telling Fox News Channel's "Your World with Neil Cavuto" that even Vice President Joe Biden, one of the letter's top critics, has taken similar actions.

Biden "certainly took his role seriously in the United States Congress, including going to the country of Georgia when we were in negotiations with them," Portman said. "He certainly had a lot to say about what was going on in terms of the Iraq War and being very engaged and involved in that, and that's appropriate."

Portman said the senators are not trying to hurt the negotiations, but help them.

"Having worked in two White Houses, … sometimes you actually use Congress to get a better deal including, frankly, the congressional sanctions that were put in place to help get the Iranians to the table in the first place," Portman said. "They wouldn't even be talking if it wasn't for the sanctions that were imposed, and Congress insisted on that."

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Two of the 47 Republican senators who signed an open letter to the leadership of Iran say they were right to do so, and that the Senate should have a say in any nuclear agreement.
rob portman, james risch, republican, senators, letter, iran, barack obama
Tuesday, 10 March 2015 07:43 PM
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