Stop Accusing Donald Trump Of Treason

Mark Makela / Getty Images

The clamor of faux liberals, sour over a Clinton defeat, for months has been “Donald Trump is a Traitor! Donald Trump is guilty of treason!”

It is not only on social media that these allegations come rolling in, but from news sources and from people flashing credentials to make shaky claims. The Boston Globe has published the rantings of John Shattuck, a former Assistant Secretary of State under Madeleine Albright and a fellow at Harvard. Mr. Shattuck claims that President-elect Trump’s dismissal of the accusations that Russia hacked the e-mails of private partisan institutions is grounds for treason charges.

Treason is the only crime spelled out in the U.S. Constitution and has had an unchanged definition since 1790, as laid out in Article III, section 3.

“Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court.”

For Donald Trump to be convicted of that criticism, he would have to levy war against the United States or adhere to our enemies, giving them aid and comfort. There is nothing else that consists of treason, no matter how much you want there to be such a thing.

Donald trump making an animated face at a rally
Donald Trump, elected President on December 19, is being accused of treason [Image by Drew Angerer/Getty Images] Drew Angerer / Getty Images

There is no plausible reason that anyone would believe that Trump has waged war against the United States — he has had no army which he led to attack the United States. If he had one, you would know it too, because he would be promoting it as the largest, most professional, most luxurious army in the entire world. In a sense, Trump will be leading the United States Armed Forces in a few weeks, but they generally are not waging war on the United States and Trump has not commanded them yet.

This brings us to whether or not Donald Trump has committed treason by adhering to our enemies. The first issue with any claim that he has is that Russia is not an enemy of the United States, at least not formally. We must declare war upon Russia for it to legally be our enemy, and we are not at war with Russia, no matter how much some people want to be at war with another nuclear power with the capability of destroying the world several times over.

Second, Trump has not given aid and comfort to Russia in any case. If the accusations are true and Russia did hack the DNC and John Podesta and then leaked the information to elect Donald Trump, then it would be Russia giving aid and comfort to Trump, not the other way around. These accusations are challenged by serious journalists anyway because the American public has not been made privy to information that sufficiently supports that conclusion.

We also must remember that neither John Podesta nor the DNC are part of the United States government and their e-mails are not owned by the U.S. government. This is a unique case where the U.S. government even cares. I remember when I joined the Socialist Party USA, one of the few electoral parties with official recognition by the FEC, my mail from the Socialist Party regularly arrived opened and resealed sloppily. When I inquired into this with other party members, they were all used to the same treatment by the U.S. government. When I was the campaign chair for the 2012 Stewart Alexander campaign, my phone calls with him and his campaign manager, and eventual 2016 candidate, Mimi Soltysik, often had the interference suggesting phone tapping. If it is acceptable for the U.S. government to spy on political parties and campaigns, why would it be so much different for Russia to do the same?

If Donald Trump has committed treason, no one has revealed those acts as of yet. Moreover, it is extremely dangerous and irresponsible to be accusing the Donald of treason over this and watering down the definition of treason.

As the Guardian reported way back in February, 2016, Donald Trump has taken seriously the idea that he can sue reporters for libel for honest attempts to report news unfavorable to him. CNN reported on November 29 that he wants to throw people in jail for burning flags, previously ruled a protected form of free speech. In the spirit of fairness, Snopes confirms that Hillary Clinton co-sponsored a bill to do the same in 2005. Donald Trump may not be guilty of treason, but he appears to have no respect for civil liberties and the rule of law, either.

Protesters burning a flag at the Republican National Convention
Free speech acts such as this flag burning at the Republican National Convention this summer are among things Donald Trump wants to make illegal [Image by Spencer Platt/Getty Images] Spencer Platt / Getty Images

By spreading the false narrative that treason is loosely defined and setting a precedent for it being used for partisan purposes, as faux liberals have done before with accusations against Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden, they end up only empowering Trump to misuse treason charges himself. As his antidemocratic behavior has extended past his election victory, it is likely he would love a loose definition of treason. Furthermore, your petty partisan attacks undermine legitimate criticism of him and his actions. Please, faux liberals, accept that Hillary Clinton was a horrible, horrible candidate and stop empowering four years of terror under Trump by accusing him of treason.

[Featured Image by Mark Makela/Getty Images]