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More than 148,000 petitioners want Republican senators charged with treason

More than 148,000 petitioners want Republican senators charged with treason

Thousands of people have told the Obama administration that the Republican senators who wrote an open letter to Iran this week should be charged with treason.

The Obama administration has set up a system that lets people submit petitions, and promises to at least respond to those petitions if they collect 100,000 signatures after 30 days.

Thousands of petitioners have told the White House that Republican senators should be charged with treason for writing an open letter to Iran. Image: AP Photo/Andrew Harnik

On Monday, a petition was submitted asking the administration to "file charges against the 47 U.S. senators in violation of the Logan Act in attempting to undermine a nuclear agreement." That petition is a response to an open letter that 47 GOP senators wrote to Iran, which warned that Congress will play some role in the nuclear agreement that the Obama administration is trying to negotiate.

That letter led many Democrats to argue that Republicans were trying to undermine Obama's effort. Some went further by saying the Republican senators may have violated the Logan Act, an 1799 law that prohibits unauthorized people from negotiating with foreign governments.

The State Department said this week it had no legal opinion of whether the letter violated the Logan Act. But by Wednesday morning, more than 148,000 people thought that charges should be filed — that means the White House should respond at some point to the petition, since the 100,000 threshold was quickly crossed.

"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," the petition read. "Violation of the Logan Act is a felony, punishable under federal law with imprisonment of up to three years."

It's not immediately clear whether the GOP letter amounts to a "negotiation" with Iran. The letter was not delivered directly to Iran, and instead is in the form of an open letter than purports to instruct Iran about how the Constitution gives Congress some power to shape foreign affairs.

Secretary of State John Kerry said Wednesday that he thinks the letter was "quite stunning," and actually ignored the fact that the administration does have the authority to enter into some agreements without Congress.

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