“Treason,” according to the Oxford American Dictionary, is “treachery toward one’s country or its ruler.” “Treasonable,” is “involving the crime of treason.” Only a thin line separates treasonable and treason.
To simplify, an activity might be “treasonable” without intent; that is, not rising to the level of treason per se. I know this distinction to be true. To understand it in strictly legal, indictable terms would require the services of a federal prosecutor, I suspect.
A step below treasonable behavior, as I understand it, could be something like “obstruction of justice;” that is, attempting to intrude upon, delay, or quash an investigation which might expose one to charges of treasonable behavior. As I understand it, if the President of the United States or any of his associates were knowing “colluding with the Russians” during the recent presidential election with a view toward influencing the outcome of that election, it would be treasonable behavior.
If the President of the United States, having discovered that an investigation into such a collusion was underway by any qualified government agency (i.e. the F.B.I.) and interfered, in either a formal or a casual way, to surreptitiously intrude upon, delay, or quash that investigation would be, as I understand it, an “obstruction of justice.”
If, theoretically, the aforementioned investigation, as a result of this high-level interference, was stopped, then this obstruction of justice would contribute to treasonable behavior, as I see it.
As I write, we have clear knowledge that certain members of the Donald Trump Campaign were in regular communication with the Russians. We also know that one of these campaign staff members was very close to Candidate Trump–so close, in fact, that the president actually appointed him to a high-level, high-security position within the administration. Other campaign operatives have been linked directly with Russia, as well.
Let me move beyond generalities. In view of the above, clearly, General Mike Flynn, Paul Manafort, Roger Stone and others connected with the campaign are dangling over a double-edged sword.
Owing to the testimonies of several high-level officials in the intelligence services and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the president himself may, knowingly or unwittingly, be implicated in attempts to obstruct the aforementioned investigations.
One example. According to Reuters, “Trump asked [FBI Director] Comey to end any investigation of Michael Flynn; to end the agency’s investigation….” President Trump has denied this allegation; Director James Comey is on record as having a memo, which he wrote on the subject, and told some associates that he was “uncomfortable” being alone with the president, partly at least because of the president’s attempt to influence him.
Subsequently, the President fired Director Comey.
Allegations, which have risen to the level of Washington, D.C. swamp stench, have brought on, according to CBS news, the appointment of former FBI Director Robert Mueller as a special counsel to investigate “possible links between Russia and Trump campaign associates.” The Senate and the House of Representatives are proceeding with their own investigations.
Time will tell whether we have obstruction of justice, treasonable behavior or treason that reaches into the White House.
DID YOU KNOW that despite the president and his Press Secretary Sean Spicer’s assertions, Paul Manafort played a primary role in the Trump campaign and the Republican National Convention?
DID YOU KNOW that Paul Manafort lived in Trump Tower before he became Trump’s campaign manager? [The Daily Beast]
DID YOU KNOW that Paul Manafort “worked for a Russian billionaire with a plan to ‘greatly benefit the Putin Government?'” [Washington, Associated Press, March 23, 2017]
DID YOU KNOW that, according to the Associated Press, Paul Manafort received millions of dollars from Russia to influence American politics and businesses? He drew no salary for his Trump campaign work.
DID YOU KNOW that Donald Trump said that Paul Manafort “had done a great job” the day after the Republican National Convention? Did Trump know that Manafort was working for a millionaire ally of Vladimir Putin? [Trump speech]
DID YOU KNOW that Roger Stone is “under investigation for what would be his dirtiest trick–colluding with the Russians to defeat Hillary Clinton and to put his friend in the White House?” [Maggie Haberman, The New York Times, March 21, 2017]
DID YOU KNOW that Carter Page, an American oil consultant and “an early foreign policy adviser to Donald J. Trump who was scrutinized by the F.B.I. on suspicion of private communications with senior Russian officials over the summer, was back in Moscow on Thursday.” [Moscow release to The New York Times, December, 2016]
DID YOU KNOW that Representative Devin Nunes (R, Calif), who is running the House Intelligence Committee on the Russian-Trump connection, was a member of President Trump’s transition team?
DID YOU KNOW that Representative Devin Nunes (R, Calif), who is running the House Intelligence Committee on the Russian influence in the 2016 election, told reporters he didn’t know who Roger Stone and Carter Page are? [Nunes interview]
DID YOU KNOW that Representative Adam Shiff, (D, Calif), a ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee’s investigation, has said publicly that “he has more than circumstantial evidence” that Trump associates colluded with Russia. [Lawrence O’Donnell program, MSNBC News, March 22, 2017]
DID YOU KNOW that Rex Tillerson, the current Secretary of State and General Mike Flynn, who served as Donald Trump’s National Security Advisor during the transition period and for a short period after President Trump took office, had close relationships with Vladimir Putin and the Russian oligarchs? [various news reports]
DID YOU KNOW that “the reclusive mastermind behind President Trump’s nationalist ideology and combative tactics, Stephen Bannon, made his public debut Thursday, delivering a fiery rebuke of the media and declaring that the new administration is in an unending battle for ‘deconstruction of the administrative state.’” [The Washington Post reporting on the Conservative Action Pac conference]
DID YOU KNOW that it is commonly known that Vladimir Putin despised Hillary Clinton and therefore wanted to influence the 2016 election to see that Ms Clinton lost the presidency to businessman Donald Trump? [MSNBC news release]
DID YOU KNOW that President Donald Trump is on record “assert[ing] his desire to draw Russia and the United States closer together as president–building on a long-established track record of Trump’s fondness for the autocratic Russian leader?” [CNN Politics article, “Donald Trump’s Praise for Vladimir Putin” by Jeremy Diamond, July 2016]
DID YOU KNOW that, while he was telling his followers that Hillary Clinton was under F.B.I. investigation,
Donald Trump [himself] was the subject of an F.B.I. investigation? [released during the House Intelligence Committee Investigation]
DID YOU KNOW that “The U.S. intelligence community concluded in a report released publicly on January 6th, 2017 that Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered a massive influence campaign to interfere in the presidential election in favor of Trump?” [MSN article, Max Greenwood in The Hill, March 22, 2017]
Now that you know these facts and assertions, can you connect the dots (the relationships)? Would you say that the Trump administration has some ‘splainin’ to do?
Of the many, almost uncountable mistakes Donald Trump has made in his first week in office, perhaps the most foolish is his insistence on the “three to five million” fraudulent votes cast. Anyone who knows me is aware of my belief that The Embarrassment-in-Chief has never developed rational thinking skills, but this particular folly proves that there seems to be no one around him who has them either. Perhaps someone who has these skills should make some large charts to explain the following.
It should be noted that state election officials, along with members of congress, state there was no voter fraud anywhere near this level.
In an interview on CNN with Chris Cuomo, Gregg Phillips stated he would have a report in several months detailing the voting irregularities. This is after saying specifically that there were three million illegal votes cast. When pushed to provide the information supporting his claim, he said he didn’t have it. When asked how he could say this without completing his research, he appeared puzzled. He evidently didn’t understand the question. At the very least, Mr. Phillips has made a rather inflammatory statement based on preliminary research which has not been completed and won’t be completed for some months. Generally, folks who write computer programs are pretty good at linear thinking, but the evidence says something different in this case.
If this claim proves not to be true, Donald Trump is going to be embarrassed that he claimed there were voting irregularities. I suspect in this case, there will simply be…no report…kind of like his providing his tax returns.
If the claim proves to be true, as noted by Jim Wright in his blog “Stonekettle Station,” the election is clearly not valid since there is no way to prove for whom all those three million-plus people voted. Not all Afro-American or Hispanic voters voted for Hillary, after all, so there should be SOME “illegal” votes cast for Donald Trump. Additionally, all the other elections held in November are clearly NOT valid since there were so many invalid ballots. Therefore, all elections from November 2016 will need to be declared invalid and the elections will need to be held again.
I hope someone will start working on those charts, film them, and then show them to Donald on television. That seems to be the most persuasive way to convince him.
As I write this, the New Year -2017 - is 13 days away. When you read this article, the New Year will be here. I write with mixed feelings about the future of our country - especially since President-elect Trump has already signaled changing diplomatic relationships with a number of adversarial nations.
While courting favor with the Russians, Mr. Trump is routinely taking antagonistic stances toward the Chinese. As to Iraq, Syria and North Korea, three of our most dangerous adversaries, Trump’s policies appear to shift with the sands.
Truthfully, most of us have absolutely no idea what will happen following President-elect Trump’s inauguration on Jan. 20, 2017. We do know that the Trumps will not be immediately moving to Washington, D.C. We do know the new president has indicated he plans to serve without pay, that he plans to intermingle his private security force with the secret service, and that he does not plan to continue investigative activities toward his opponent.
All being said, if he doesn’t change his mind between now and then.
I have been asked if I am keeping a list of Trump’s campaign promises, and whether or not I plan to call him on them. I have; and, I will. I deeply opposed the election of Mr. Trump, so it would be nothing less than disingenuous to ignore his governance.
I’m trying very hard to “look on the bright side of life.” I really do, down deep, want President Trump to succeed, because, if he succeeds the country succeeds. At least, at this point, I’m trying to believe so. Let me put it another way. If President Trump does not succeed, we have four miserable, nonproductive years ahead of us, where nothing we might see as progressive, and changing or growing takes place.
If President Trump goes all out, for example, with a gigantic, full-throttle infrastructure rebuilding and improvement plan, I see an avenue for considerable success for a Trump administration.
If building and repairing our highways, bridges, tunnels, railway tracks, airports - well, you get the picture - then we will see an unbelievable upturn in employment. Blue-collar and nonprofessional jobs should be abundantly available!
Paying for such a progressive program seems to require the administration, along with Congress, to support a tax program that simplifies tax preparation as well as making it truly progressive - with the highest rates at the top and the lowest rates at the bottom would be a success for everyone.
I am full of hope that a highly successful “builder” in the presidency would surely have an eye toward rebuilding our country’s infrastructure. I’m truly hopeful that the man who promised to “Make America Great Again” - even though a hefty majority of us already felt pretty good about America’s greatness - will bring about the kinds of improvements that will convince us the election of Donald J. Trump for the presidency was not such a bad thing, after all.
The bottom line is simply: We’ll just have to wait and see!
[Milt Hankins is a theologian, former pastor, author, publisher and editor. His website is www.columnistwithaview.com. He writes a weekly column for the Huntington, WV Herald-Dispatch where this article first appeared on January 2, 2017. He lives in Ashland, Kentucky with his wife Deborah and their playful Chihuahua “Jose.”]