Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the press secretary and official spokesperson for Donald Trump, said on Monday that the “media” who reported on the ongoing Trump-Russia collusion accusations, as well as “Democrats,” have committed an offense “equivalent to treason,” adding ominously, “that’s punishable by death in this country,” according to an account posted on Twitter by The Hill.
Sanders’ alarming remarks appear to be the most extreme example of a concerted effort by Trump aides and supporters to retaliate against critics of Trump in the press and in Congress who have reported on or investigated the 2016 Trump campaign’s connections with Russia, according to a report by Politico saying that “Trump aides want payback” after Special Counsel Robert Mueller found “no collusion.”
Mueller submitted the report of his investigative findings on Friday. The report remains secret, with even the number of pages it contains remaining hidden from the public, as The Inquisitr reported.
But on Sunday, Attorney General William Barr issued a four-page “summary” of the report in which he said that Mueller “did not find that the Trump campaign or anyone associated with it conspired or coordinated with Russia in its efforts to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election.”
But Barr’s summary also noted that Mueller’s investigation was limited to whether any Americans “joined” one of two Russian “conspiracies.” Those were the social media propaganda campaign carried out by the Kremlin-linked Internet Research Agency, and the hacking and public release of Democratic Party emails by agents of the Russian intelligence agency known as the GRU.
Barr also noted that the Mueller investigation looked only at alleged coordination with “the Russian government,” as quoted by Vox, while also finding “multiple offers from Russian-affiliated individuals to assist the Trump campaign.” Barr’s summary was silent on how the Trump campaign responded to the “multiple offers” from “Russia-affiliated individuals,” as opposed to the “Russian government.”
Nonetheless, Trump himself on Twitter claimed that Mueller found, “No Collusion, No Obstruction, Complete and Total EXONERATION,” and Trump aides immediately called for retaliation against Democrats and the media.
Sarah Sanders comes out strong for executing Manafort and Flynn. https://t.co/dU0F3H8I8S— Dennis DiClaudio (@dennisdiclaudio) March 25, 2019
Both Trump spokesperson Kellyanne Conway, and House Republican Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy targeted House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff, the California Democrat who is leading that committee’s investigations into the Trump-Russia connections, demanding that Schiff immediately resign his position on the committee, as Fortune reported.
Trump’s son, Donald Trump Jr., in a Twitter post, said that media members whom he referred to as “truthers” should be held “accountable.” Trump Jr., however, stopped short of Sanders’ warning that members of the media could be executed for their reporting on the Trump-Russia story, saying only that he hoped the “truthers” would be subjected to “scorn and ridicule.”
Sanders’ claim that calling a president an “agent of a foreign government” is “equivalent” to treason is inaccurate. As CNN has reported, political speech, including even harsh verbal attacks on the president, receive the highest degree of protection under the First Amendment’s free speech guarantee.