Treason Defined in the U.S. Constitution
The U.S. Constitution provides a definition of treason. It declares, “Treason against the United States shall consist only in levying war against them [the U.S.], or in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort.” Some may contend that certain actions—for example, Russian interference in U.S. elections—are the equivalent of levying war. But the fact is, no “actual” state of war exists between the United States and Russia. And absent a state of war, legal experts contend this constitutional clause precludes Russia’s classification as an enemy. Consequently, individuals seemingly working in consort with Russian objectives and policies—even against U.S. interests—cannot be charged with treason.
Donald Trump—The Manchurian Candidate
The film, The Manchurian Candidate, based on a book of the same name, was released in 1962 in the midst of the cold war. The plot in brief. A platoon of American soldiers captured by the Soviets during the Korean War is taken to Manchuria in Communist China. Using a revolutionary technique, the Communists brainwash the soldiers and send them back to the United States. They program the soldiers to blindly obey orders when triggered. Working with an American “handler” the objective is to ultimately control the U.S. Government by installing a demagogue exploiting prejudice and ignorance as President. Many would readily conclude that the current real-life occupant of the office accomplishes that objective.
Merriam Webster defines a bigot as a person who is obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices especially: one who regards or treats the members of a group (such as a racial or ethnic group) with hatred and intolerance. Few could realistically dispute that Donald Trump is a bigot. Nor could few dispute that he has exploited his racist and prejudiced views on immigration to sow dissension among the American electorate. On the other hand, few would deny ignorance is his strong suit. So, to those familiar with the Manchurian Candidate, Trump fits the bill as the demagogue. But has he been installed by the Russians?
Trump and the Russians
Aside from die hard Trump supporters, few doubt that Russia interfered with the 2016 U.S. Presidential elections. And it is commonly accepted that Russia’s actions supported Trump’s candidacy and negatively impacted that of Hillary Clinton. Whether Trump personally colluded with Russia—as have his campaign manager and other supporters—awaits the Special Counsel’s report. Yet there is already much evidence that Trump’s attitudes and actions concerning Russia are contrary to U.S. interests. Evidence hiding in plain sight.
Vladimir Putin’s Wish List
Consider what Vladimir Putin would want of a U.S. President he controls:
- Removal of sanctions that are damaging the Russian economy.
- Refusal to accept Russia had interfered (and continues to interfere) in the US election.
- Withdrawal of U.S. troops from Syria to allow Russia a free hand there.
- Dissension with NATO Countries and NATO’s ultimate dissolution.
- A U.S. electorate riven by discord.
- Trade wars among U.S. allies.
- Damage to the U.S. economy.
Trump Defends Putin and Russia
It seems that everything on the list is already in play. The President makes no effort to hide his fondness for the authoritarian Putin. Nor to following the Russian (former Soviet) playbook. For example, in 2017, after saying he respects Putin, he is told Putin is a killer. He responds, “There are a lot of killers. Do you think our country is so innocent?” Then at the Helsinki summit in 2018, he defends Putin, declining to endorse the U.S. intelligence community’s assessment of Russian interference in the 2016 election. However, he was forced to backtrack the next day, saying he misspoke, failing to correctly use a double negative.
In 2019, he spouted the old false Soviet line, “The reason Russia was in, in Afghanistan was because terrorists were going into Russia.” So, when Trump speaks about Russia, it is with nothing but fondness. Most recently it was reported that no one in the Trump administration has any record of what was said in his private meetings with Putin.
Trump Acts on Putin’s Wish List
But it’s not just words that suggest Trump is carrying Putin’s water. Look at Putin’s wish list above and note:
- Trump is removing sanctions against a Russian Oligarch’s business empire.
- Despite universal acceptance of Russian interference in the 2016 election Trump has taken no action to prevent its recurrence in 2020.
- Trump has ordered a U.S. troop withdrawal from Syria.
- Trump continues to attack NATO countries and threaten U.S. withdrawal from the alliance.
- The country is more polarized than ever in the modern era and Trump continues to reaffirm that he cares only for his base supporters.
- He has initiated trade wars with allies as well as with China with negative results.
- To add to the damage to the economy by his trade wars, Trump’s petulant temper tantrum shutting down the government is inflicting terrible hardships on millions of Americans and exacerbating the existing discord.
Trump—A Russian Asset?
By his actions Trump gives every impression that he is a witting agent of Russia. And that’s not all. While evidence of his past has not yet been made public, there is enough information available to make some educated guesses. First, Trump’s business record is not the success he claims. He has driven several businesses into bankruptcy and has a record of “stiffing” those to whom he owes money. So much so, that after the last bankruptcy, no U.S. bank would lend him any. Yet he received substantial sums elsewhere. While Deutsch Bank did make loans, it is believed that the ultimate source was Russian funding. And it is suspected that much of those funds were laundered, making their receipt a crime. Trump has denied any business in or with Russia. But his sons gave away the truth years ago, bragging about getting all the money they needed from Russia.
From his other actions it is known that Trump plays fast and loose with the law. Witness New York State’s lawsuit that forced disbanding of the Trump Foundation and could expose Trump and his children—Donald, Jr., Ivanka and Eric—to millions in potential penalties.
A Real-Life Manchurian Candidate
So, the reasonable presumption is that the Russians have something on Trump that’s beyond any inappropriate sexual conduct. It could be criminal conduct. It could be financing that if withdrawn, could bring down the Trump empire. Or, it could be some combination of both.
Assuming there is proof that Trump is indeed acting on behalf of Russia, the question turns to the penalty for such action. Legal experts believe he could not be charged with treason, nor under Justice Department guidelines, indicted for a crime. That leaves only impeachment, a road current Republican Senators are not likely to follow.
Imagine, we could have a real-life Manchurian Candidate and can’t do anything about it—except vote him out of office in 2020. And then hope he leaves.