Donald Trump Accusing Anyone Of Treason Today? Oh Good!
During last week's hearing about the whistleblower complaint, Rep. Adam Schiff described Donald Trump's actions during his phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy as a "classic organized crime shakedown." The House Intelligence Committee chairman even impersonated Trump asking Zelenskiy for a "favor" he couldn't refuse.
SCHIFF: This is the essence of what the President communicates: "We've been very good to your country, very good. No other country has done as much as we have, but you know what? I don't see much reciprocity here. I hear what you want, I have a favor I want from you, though, and I'm gonna say this only seven times, so you better listen good. I want you to make up dirt on my political opponent, understand, lots of it."
The performance wasn't on the level of Alec Baldwin. It's also not really "parody." But Schiff's pretend statement is certainly not TREASON, which is what the pretend president claimed on Twitter.
Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying war against them, or in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort.
Supporting or tacitly threatening another Civil War is a treasonous act. Criticizing or mocking the president isn't treason. It's protected speech under the First Amendment. That's why private citizen Trump was able to lie about Barack Obama's heritage without any legal or criminal consequence. Trump wants to be Henry VIII (he just needs another three wives). The Treason Act of 1534 defined "high treason" as offenses against the mad monarch's considerable person. You weren't allowed to "slanderously and maliciously publish and pronounce, by express writing or words, that the king should be heretic, schismatic, tyrant, infidel or usurper of the crown." That got your ass the rack.
WATCH: Rep. Adam Schiff's full opening statement on whistleblower complaint | DNI hearing youtu.be
Here in America, we can call the president a gangster, especially if he goes around acting like a gangster. Trump swore to "preserve, protect, and defend" the Constitution, so he should probably have someone read it to him. It's bound to come up during the impeachment inquiry.
The commander in chief accused an American citizen of a serious offense, the punishment for which ranges from imprisonment to death. Impeachment is a cake walk by comparison. If convicted in the Senate, Trump would only be removed from office and prevented from holding any other government office. Richard Nixon already demonstrated the golden parachute options for disgraced presidents -- resign, get pardoned, and have a sit down with David Frost.
RNC chairwoman Ronna McDaniel, who lacks dignity and scruples, defended Trump's implied threat against a sitting House member.
Yes, Schiff is the liar who smears people and "fabricates" statements. McDaniel is free to say this, and we're free to say she's gross. We should take the president's Twitter tantrums seriously when he accuses his political opponents of betraying the country.
Republicans have accused Democrats of not loving America enough to invade random countries. But this is different. This is the president -- not Rush Limbaugh or shadowy GOP strategists. He actually confuses loyalty to America with loyalty to himself. He's not a man who possesses the pragmatism or whisper of decency Nixon demonstrated when he resigned. He'll take America and his declared enemies down with him. He might not command a personal army for a Civil War, but he just needs a handful of equally unhinged supporters who believe his bullshit. We are entering dangerous times. And we should never forget the Republicans who continue to enable this.
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He recently fled Seattle, where he did theatre work for Book-It Rep and Cafe Nordo.