Trump’s remarks were ill-advised, but certainly not treasonous

Is Donald Trump a traitor?

There are more than a few folks on Facebook, Twitter, etc. who think so. Of course, many of them have been looking for an excuse to dump a president they don’t like, just as the other side did in the eight years his predecessor was in office.

If you’re going to level a serious charge like that — the only crime specifically mentioned in our Constitution — then please, make sure you know what you’re talking about.

Treason is betraying your own country. We’re not sure that badmouthing a federal agency rises to that standard.

The accusation also assumes that Russia is the enemy of the United States. While it’s more than fair to suggest it is not a close ally, the reality is that the last time Russia was a declared enemy was World War II. Even during the Cold War, there was no actual declaration regarding our status with the USSR.

Presidents have some leeway to engage in policy as they see fit. Trump, on more than a few occasions, has stretched that to unfit, but there seems to be no reason to believe his statement was a betrayal.

The late Richard Nixon is presumed to have committed crimes in office, but even his actions were never really traitorous. Few would say today that Ronald Reagan was a traitor for the Iran-Contra or Toshiba-Kongsberg scandals, both of which happened on his watch (and both more seriously undermined the security of the nation).

And Bill Clinton escaped unscathed when Bernard Schwartz, a significant donor, transferred sensitive missile technology to China (Schwartz was exonerated on the campaign side and his company, Loral, paid a significant fine for the missile transfer).

President Trump’s shoot-from-the-hip style has caused him to say really regretful things on several occasions since taking office.

But actions speak louder than words and the actions of several of his predecessors — some liberal and others conservative — have been far more concerning than when Trump has proverbially put his foot into his mouth and people have reacted with far less outrage.

Fewer than two years into Trump’s presidency, it seems more and more people of a certain political persuasion are reaching in an effort to undo the 2016 election. This time, it seems that the reach has gone too far.

COMMENTS