WASHINGTON (CBS DC) — A petition to the White House seeks federal prosecution of 47 U.S. Senators for committing a “treasonous offense” after the lawmakers sent a warning letter to Iran for them not to cut a nuclear program deal with the U.S.

According to the online petition to the Obama Administration, the Mar. 9 letter sent to Iran by the 47 senators is in violation of the Logan Act – a 1799 law forbidding unauthorized citizens from negotiating with foreign governments.

From the petition: “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. Violation of the Logan Act is a felony, punishable under federal law with imprisonment of up to three years.”

As of Wednesday morning, the petition had far surpassed the 100,000 needed by Apr. 8 to guarantee an official White House response. The petition acquired nearly 150,000 signatures.

“At a time when the United States government is attempting to reach a potential nuclear agreement with the Iranian government, 47 Senators saw fit to instead issue a condescending letter to the Iranian government stating that any agreement brokered by our President would not be upheld once the president leaves office,” continues the online petition.

“This is a clear violation of federal law. In attempting to undermine our own nation, these 47 senators have committed treason.”

The White House denounced the Republican senators’ letter as a way to undercut international negotiations and “rush to war.” President Obama responded on Monday, saying he finds it “ironic” that GOP members of Congress are “want to make common cause with the hardliners in Iran. It’s an unusual coalition.”

However, the White House has stopped short of discussing any legal action against the senators who penned the letter to Iran warning that any nuclear deal would expire the day Obama leaves office.

The following is the portion of the Logan Act pertaining to any potential prosecution:

“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.”

Benjamin Fearnow

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