According to the report in The Hill, the Kentucky Republican sat down with Guatemalan President Otto Perez Molina for 45 minutes, and the senator discussed politics with the foreign head of state.
“I think what’s happened at the border is all squarely at the president’s lap,” Paul said. “The problem and the solution aren’t in Guatemala. The problem and solution reside inside the White House.”
As a substantive matter, the senator’s position is tough to defend or even understand. President Obama didn’t sign the 2008 human-trafficking measure into law; he didn’t create awful conditions in Central American countries; and he didn’t encourage anyone to lie to desperate families about what would happen to their children. If there’s a coherent explanation for why the White House to blame, it’s hiding well.
But even putting that aside, since when is it kosher for U.S. officials to travel abroad to condemn U.S. leaders like this?
Good question. Remember when the Dixie Chicks were blackballed for suggesting as Americans that George W. Bush's foreign policy on Iraq was wrong? Eleven years later, it's now 100% acceptable for a sitting US senator to go abroad and openly attack the President, with the head of state of a foreign nation in attendance.
Isn't that illegal?
Just to flesh this out further, in 2010, then-House Minority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) traveled to Israel in the hopes of undermining U.S. foreign policy towards Israel. At the time, this caused quite a stir in foreign-policy circles – it seemed extraordinary for an elected American official to travel abroad in order to work against his own country’s position.
Perhaps now, with the Rand Paul example in mind, the practice is becoming more common.
For even more context, note that in 2007, then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) met with Syrian officials in Syria. Republicans, including Cantor, suggested Pelosi may have violated the Logan Act, “which makes it a felony for any American ‘without authority of the United States’ to communicate with a foreign government to influence that government’s behavior on any disputes with the United States.”
One wonders who, if anyone, will raise similar allegations against Rand Paul.
So did Paul violate the Logan Act?
Nobody seems to care that he did, openly. And that he admits it.