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    Examining the Legality of Barack Obama’s Visit to 10 Downing Street: Insights into the Logan Act

    It is suspected that Barack Obama did not receive formal consent from the US government to meet UK PM Rishi Sunak, which would be a breach of The Logan Act.

    Former US President Barack Obama on Monday paid a ‘courtesy’ visit to No.10 Downing Street to meet UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.

    Former U.S. President Barack Obama walks with U.S. Ambassador to the United Kingdom Jane Hartley, at Downing Street in London, Britain, March 18, 2024. (REUTERS)
    Former U.S. President Barack Obama walks with U.S. Ambassador to the United Kingdom Jane Hartley, at Downing Street in London, Britain, March 18, 2024. (REUTERS)

    Obama, who served as president from 2009 to 2017, arrived in the UK to discuss the work of the Obama Foundation, his non-profit organisation, with Sunak. They both spoke about a range of topics, including artificial intelligence, over cups of tea.

    As he was leaving Downing Street after a one hour meeting, Obama didn’t respond to reporters’ questions, stating he was “tempted” to respond when asked about his views on Russia. He last visited Downing Street in 2016.

    Obama’s meeting with Sunak sparks MAGA theories

    Following Obama’s UK visit, Make America Great Again (MAGA) supporters raised question over his ‘undisclosed private meeting’ with Sunak and even accused him of violating ‘The Logan Act’.

    “Because Obama has never stopped being POTUS. We know he’s pulling the strings with Biden,” one more chimed in.

    The meeting also comes amid speculations that Obama’s wife Michelle may run for presidency in light of mounting concerns about Joe Biden’s age and mental fitness.

    The former First Lady has yet to make any formal announcement on it. But her office recently dismissed the reports.

    As Obama is not part of the Biden administration, it’s difficult to picture anything more than an informal talk over a cup of English tea.

    Meanwhile, one X user slammed MAGA for keeping mum when ex-US President Donald Trump held a meeting with Hungary PM Viktor Orbán at Mar-a-Lago.

    The Logan Act was one of the topics that drew attention during Obama’s brief visit to the UK. It is suspected that Obama did not receive formal consent from the US government to meet Sunak, which would be a breach of The Logan Act. According to the law, people who infringe it “shall be fined under this title, imprisoned for not more than three years, or both.”

    It is a federal law of the United States that prevents Americans to engage with foreign governments or leaders without the government’s consent.

    The act, which was passed in 1799, is named after George Logan, a Pennsylvania state politician and pacifist who had unauthorised discussions with France during the period of quasi-war between the US and France.

    In the recent past, several people have been accused of breaching the act, including SpaceX CEO Elon Musk for his blatant meddling in the Russia-Ukraine war. While the act has been in place for nearly 200 years, only two people have ever been charged with violating it but none of them was convicted.

    It is highly unlikely that the government would attempt to apply the legislation to Obama in this circumstance.

    Many people have raised voice against the law’s constitutionality, with The Federalist Society claiming that The Logan Act undermines free expression rights guaranteed by the First Amendment. There are also issues regarding the law’s effectiveness, considering its lack of enforcement despite technical breaches over the years.

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