Let None Call It Treason

I’m seeing a lot of comments lately saying Trump committed treason; this needs to stop.

When I was searching for an image for this diary, I saw all kinds of photos calling Hillary a traitor, John Kerry, John McCain, Pope Francis, Jane Fonda, Julian Assange. And Trump, of course. There was one photo with the quote “A traitor is everyone who does not agree with me.” It was said by King George III.

See, it’s easy to call someone who disagrees with you a traitor — but when the King of England says it, he means you could lose your head for doing so.

Which is why the only crime defined in the Constitution is treason:

Art. 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.

The Congress shall have power to declare the punishment of treason, but no attainder of treason shall work corruption of blood, or forfeiture except during the life of the person attainted.

The Framers were so concerned that it was so easy to accuse someone of treason, and that it could work such damage on the accused and everyone around him, that they made very sure to limit both the definition and the penalty.

Trump has committed many crimes. He has betrayed the rule of law, the norms of democracy, the very idea of decency, the customs of civility. He has sold out our country for his ego and his pocketbook. He deserves to be impeached, to be disgraced, to be thrown into prison for the rest of his unnatural life, to go down in the history books as (hopefully) the worst president of all time. And the Republican party should go down with him.

But we have seen no evidence that he has committed treason as defined in the Constitution.

Some evidence may come to light. Putin is an enemy of the United States, and it is possible that in one of the transcripts of their phone calls, we may hear Trump adhering to him and taking orders from him. Then we can call it treason.

But so far, what we have is Trump refusing to accept that he won only because of Russian help, and that he wants Russia to let him build Trump Tower Moscow (throw in bribery on top of his other crimes). Yes, he clearly wants the sanctions lifted, which is aid and comfort, but, again, we need adherence to the enemy. And then we need to prove in open court that Putin is an enemy as defined in Constitution (and I’m not sure the definition has ever been tested). And then we need those witnesses or a confession.

I’m not being pedantic here. The Framers made it difficult to charge and prove the crime of treason because it’s so easy to accuse someone of it. When you are in power, all kinds of people are going to oppose you. In a democracy, we call that politics, but George III called it treason, and he had the power to order people executed for it. Trump is trying to do the same thing.

Let’s not sink to his level.