President Trump and the Elements of Treason

Trump should be tried and imprisoned for treason

“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.”
US Constitution, Article III, section 3

What is “Adhering to” defined as?

Black’s law dictionary defines this as: “Joining, leagued with, cleaving to; as, ‘adhering to the enemies of the United States.’ ”

Applying the element…..
Do ‘enemies of the United States’ include Russia? This is not even a question to some. It is a question to others, but this careful and thorough look at relations between Russia and the U.S. since the end of the Cold War and Yeltsin’s resignation, make it seem clear that Russia is averse to America and to democratic ideals. See http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2017/03/06/trump-putin-and-the-new-cold-war.

But, say you disagree; you think Russia is not the enemy of the U.S, because Russia is not always our enemy in international affairs (only sometimes). Even so, if: as was reported by the CIA, the FBI, the Department of State, and many news outlets, Russia interfered in our democratic political process, surely Russia is the enemy of America for that?

The interference with the Presidential election happened while we were all watching. It was not covert. It was televised. Trump promised Putin aid and comfort many times. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/12/us/politics/trump-russia-election-meeting.html

One man, the former CIA director, James Clapper, finally reminded us that Trump’s friend Vladimir Putin was a KGB state officer, and that they recruit assets, and that Trump was an asset for Putin. Clapper did mollify the CNN journalist by saying he meant that ‘figuratively’ (but only on the third round of the same question did he offer to thus turn down the volume on his scathing perception of the leader in the White House.)

http://www.cnn.com/videos/politics/2017/12/18/james-clapper-trump-putin-russia-asset-intv.cnn

What is the definition of “aid and comfort”?

“Help; support; assistance; counsel; encouragement.”

Applying the element…

As an element in the crime of treason, the giving of “aid and comfort” to the enemy may consist in a mere attempt. It is not essential to constitute the giving of aid and comfort that the enterprise commenced should be successful and actually render assistance. Young v. United States, 97 U. S. 62, 24 L. Ed. 992; U. S. v. Greathouse, 4 Sawy. 472, Fed. Cas. No. 15,254.

If, a few hours of being elected, sanctions were promised to be lifted against Russia that the previous government of the United States and the President had enacted, such a promise is “encouragement” now, and overt help and comfort later, when it actually occurred, in February 2017. (Sanctions against Russia were lifted. This occurred despite Trump explaining that sanctions were in place for a reason; Russia’s occupation of Crimea and interference in our elections, which Trump was briefed on.

So, too, America was briefed, by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, which released an unclassified report expressing the conclusion of the CIA, FBI and NSA about Russian election interference:

“We assess Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the U.S. presidential election. Russia’s goals were to undermine public faith in the US democratic process, denigrate Secretary Clinton, and harm her electability and potential presidency. We further assess Putin and the Russian Government developed a clear preference for President-elect Trump. We have high confidence in these judgments. We also assess Putin and the Russian Government aspired to help President-elect Trump’s election chances when possible by discrediting Secretary Clinton and publicly contrasting her unfavorably to him.”  From https://www.dni.gov/files/documents/ICA_2017_01.pdf

Quote also found in this Timeline by Politico: https://www.politico.com/trump-russia-ties-scandal-guide/timeline-of-events

Trump’s administration lifted sanctions. https://www.cbsnews.com/news/trump-administration-relaxes-u-s-sanctions-on-russia-imposed-under-obama/.

This was an overt act of aid and comfort.

Who are the “two witnesses to the overt act” which the statute requires to convict?

Trump’s decision to lift sanctions could be anyone who follows the news…. but, if it had to be a state official in case all news is fake news; one witness, who may know even more specifically that Trump himself directed lifting sanctions against Russia, would be Daniel Fried, who knew enough about sanctions being lifted that he urged Congress to make such a reality more difficult.

That story was broken by Yahoo News a year ago.

See https://www.yahoo.com/news/trump-administrations-secret-efforts-ease-russia-sanctions-fell-short-231301145.html.

And see http://www.businessinsider.com/trump-wanted-to-lift-russia-sanctions-days-after-taking-office-2017-6

Another witness to the overt act could be Michael Flynn. Flynn could easily be guilty of a similar charge of treason, and has pleaded guilty to others already.

http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2017/12/flynn-promised-that-russia-sanctions-would-be-ripped-up.html. Flynn would make a good inside witness and may find such a prospect wise maneuver.

Conclusion

All the elements of the Constitutional clause are met for Trump to be prosecuted for treason.

Someone else will have to prosecute this… a storyteller… someone who can draft a theory of the case and woo the jury with the telling. And I? I see the elements of treason and see each element is met. I haven’t dragged in rhetorical devices or narrative to help persuade you. Do you see it? Maybe you do. A trial lawyer is needed.

But I believe:

Trump should be tried and imprisoned for treason.

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