I was reading up on the term “treason” today because I’m sensing, as I assume a lot of Americans are, that this administration is teetering over the abyss of national disloyalty, if it hasn’t fallen into deep perdition already.
I myself sense this with a mixture of sadness, incredulity and outrage.
How is it acceptable in our historic citadel of democracy — purportedly led by a collective government of the people, by the people and for the people — that one man, while dismissively thumbing his nose at the constitutionally enshrined absolute authority of the governed, can decide by himself who is an American friend and who is a foe?
How, when the leaders of the government’s own national security apparatus — the FBI, CIA, National Security Council, et al — have specifically, repeatedly and unanimously designated Vladimir Putin-led Russia as a sworn enemy of the United States (for manifestly attacking the electoral process in 2016), does our president get away with continuously coddling, even slavishly kissing up to, the Russian strongman?
Not just a brown-noser
And Mr. Trump is not only a Russian brown-noser, he is also a rhetorical predator snarling and spitting at his own country, the one for whom he is supposed to “preserve, protect and defend” its Constitution and, presumably, shelter its people from harm.
Indeed, even immigrants to this country, whom the president has routinely castigated with scorn and contempt, especially those non-white, and who he thus sees as the lowliest of the low, are legally required to voice this part of the nation’s formal Oath of Allegiance:
“I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen; that I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; …” (italics mine for emphasis)
Yet, ignoring wise diplomatic advice not to meet chummily with an enemy of the state, Trump met one-on-one with Putin this week, and in a post summit joint press conference he attacked Robert Mueller’s ongoing special counsel investigation against certified Russian meddling in the 2016 vote that elected Trump (and may have involved the president or his handlers).
“The probe is a disaster for our country. It’s kept us separated,” he said. “There’s no collusion at all. It’s ridiculous what’s going on with the probe.”
In other words, he knows the reality better than American national security and intelligence professionals and experts who have spent their often long careers assessing the arcane intricacies of spycraft and foreign threats, and defending against them, and they are unanimously convinced Russia attacked our election and view Russia as a existential threat to America.
After today’s press conference, former CIA director John Brennan, a Democrat and frequent Trump critic, wrote that the president has revealed himself to be “wholly in the pocket of Putin” and that his un-American behavior “rises to and exceeds the threshold of ‘high crimes and misdemeanors,’” the constitution’s phrase for impeachable offenses.
It also implies treason.
New York Times columnist Charles Blow wrote Sunday that, “Trump is right now, before our eyes and those of the world, committing an unbelievable and unforgivable crime against this country. It is his failure to defend.”Jonathan Allen of NBC News wrote today, “Trump didn’t just insult his domestic critics —he also suggested that Putin is more credible than his own director of national intelligence, Dan Coats, who has accused Russia of undertaking an ‘unprecedented influence campaign’ in 2016 and said that ‘warning lights are blinking red again’ on Russian cyberattacks against the U.S.”
At their press conference, President Trump and Putin praised each other while staying clear of any substantive issues of global importance, as Trump continued to gaslight everyone.
‘Great confidence’ in spymasters
“I have great confidence in my intelligence people,” Trump said when asked about Coats’s conclusions, “but I will tell you that President Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today. … [Putin] just said it’s not Russia. I will say this: I don’t see any reason why it would be.”
I’m puzzled. How is this OK? And why isn’t the U.S. Congress pushing back?
Very arguably — and definitively — what the president is doing is likely treasonous. He is manifestly giving “aid and comfort” to an enemy of the United States by publicly taking their side against ours at the expense of his country.
‘Amounts to treason’
Aid and comfort is constitutional language that declares providing such assistance to a national enemy “amounts to treason.” According to the website USLegal:
“Article 3, Section 3, Clause 1 of the U.S. Constitution declares, that adhering to the enemies of the United States, giving them aid and comfort, shall be treason. Any act that deliberately strengthens or tends to strengthen enemies of United States or that weakens or tends to weaken the power of United States to resist and attack such enemies is characterized as aid and comfort. Aid and comfort may consist of substantial assistance or the mere attempt to provide some support. Actual help or the success of the enterprise is not relevant.”
Call me naïve, but it seems outrageous that we are allowing the president — a “servant of the people” — to unilaterally decide who is or is not an enemy of America, and then choose to give them treasonous aid and comfort without consequence.
If we keep looking sideways at this stuff, without effective response, our republic will remain grievously threatened and it’s doom will be ours alone to own.
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