When President Trump called the President of Ukraine on July 25, 2019 and clearly albeit implicitly threatened to not release $391 million of US military aid to Ukraine to push back against continued Russian military expansion into its borders, President Trump committed “treason, pure and simple” as former Massachusetts Governor and current Presidential candidate Bill Well stated on September 23, 2019 on Morning Joe on MSNBC (watch the clip below).
In that July call, President Zelensky of Ukraine stated: “We are ready to continue to cooperate for the next steps. Specifically we are almost ready to buy more Javelins from the United States for defense purposes.” In immediate response, President Trump said: “I would like you to do us a favor though because our country has been through a lot and Ukraine knows a lot about it.” Mr. Trump then spent the majority of the conversation urging Zelensky to bring forth claims of corruption against current Presidential candidate and front-runner Joe Biden and his son, Hunter.
That request is a crime.
According to the Code of Federal Regulations, namely in 11 CFR § 110.20(g), “No person shall knowingly solicit, accept, or receive from a foreign national any contribution or donation prohibited by paragraphs (b) through (d) of this section.” In subsection (b) of this same law, it clarifies that “A foreign national shall not, directly or indirectly, make a contribution or a donation of money or other thing of value, or expressly or impliedly promise to make a contribution or a donation, in connection with any Federal, State, or local election.” [Emphasis added.]
It is of course clear that Mr. Trump violated this section of the CFR by asking Mr. Zelensky to bring forth corruption claims against his major election challenger, Mr. Biden, as this would be a knowing solicitation of a thing of value in connection with a Federal election. For this alone, Mr. Trump can be impeached, if not for the host of other violations he committed as detailed and evidenced by the Mueller Report.
There is a far more serious issue here.
According to 18 U.S. Code § 2381, treason is defined as follows:
“Whoever, owing allegiance to the United States, levies war against them or adheres to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort within the United States or elsewhere, is guilty of treason and shall suffer death, or shall be imprisoned not less than five years and fined under this title but not less than $10,000; and shall be incapable of holding any office under the United States.”
Treason is the most serious crime under US law, and those who have committed treason against the United States have historically been punished via the death penalty. This is a punishment that Mr. Trump seems to approve. On September 26, 2019, Mr. Trump strongly implied to a group of staff members at a meeting of the US Mission to the UN that he believes that those who commit treason should be put to death: “I want to know who’s the person who gave the whistle-blower the information because that’s close to a spy” […]“You know what we used to do in the old days when we were smart with spies and treason, right? We used to handle it a little differently than we do now.”
“It’s treason, pure and simple.”
As Mr. Weld stated in the Morning Joe interview: “Talk about pressuring a foreign country to interfere with and control a U.S. election” […] “It couldn’t be clearer, and that’s not just undermining democratic institutions. That is treason. It’s treason, pure and simple, and the penalty for treason under the U.S. code is death. That’s the only penalty.” […] “The penalty under the Constitution is removal from office, and that might look like a pretty good alternative to the president if he could work out a plea deal.” [Emphasis added.]
On October 2, 2019, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Chairman Adam Schiff of the House Intelligence Committee gave the above-linked press conference regarding the impeachment inquiry against Mr. Trump. In her final remarks, Ms. Pelosi states that Mr. Trump has “undermined national security” via his phone call with the Ukrainian President by using Congressionally-authorized US military aid as “leverage” against Ukraine to force a foreign attack against a US Presidential candidate (Mr. Biden) and also thereby “undermining the integrity of our election”.
Unfortunately, for whatever political reasons (likely the same that were used to slow-pedal the impeachment inquiry for the last two years), Ms. Pelosi, Mr. Schiff, and major political leaders other than Mr. Weld have failed to discuss the necessary charge of treason.
There are two bases to charge trump with treason.
First, there is the basis mentioned by Mr. Weld, namely Mr. Trump’s undermining of the integrity of the Presidential election by asking a foreign power to attack a Presidential candidate (a simultaneous violation of the aforementioned campaign finance law at 11 CFR § 110.20(g)).
Fellow Americans, Russia attacked us in 2016! We need to wake up to that grotesque fact, lest our nation has lost its guts, lest we have no patriots left who believe in what the flag stands for! This is a fact that has been taken for granted for far too long by our politicians and the media, run under foot by the daily onslaught of Trumpian corruption. Russia attacked our free and fair 2016 national elections. That is the very basis of our good name, of our history, of our most deep sense of national pride: our Democracy!
This is the unified conclusion of US intelligence departments, including but not limited to the DHS, the CIA, the FBI, the Senate Intelligence Committee, the Mueller Report, multiple state election offices, and even social media giant Facebook which was exploited by 2016 Russian election hackers!
Not only has Mr. Trump failed to do anything about this Russian attack on our 2016 elections, which he explicitly asked for by his infamous July 27, 2016 “Russia, if you’re listening” comments, but now by coercing Mr. Zelensky to undermine his primary Presidential challenger in the 2020 election, Mr. Trump is soliciting a foreign attack against our election process. This is “treason, pure and simple”.
Let’s look at a second and more important issue, though. Hundreds of millions of dollars in US military aid to the Ukraine are perennially authorized by Congress in order to push back against our common military and political enemy, Russia, and its aggressive military expansion into Crimea and eastern Ukraine in its effort to revitalize the USSR, its once frightening status as a global superpower, and our most fierce foe in the Cold War decades.
“The resurgence of Russia on the world stage — seizing the Crimean Peninsula, destabilizing eastern Ukraine, intervening on behalf of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, and shaping the information environment to suit its interests — poses a major challenge to the United States. Moscow will continue to aggressively pursue its foreign policy and security objectives by employing the full spectrum of the state’s capabilities. Its powerful military, coupled with the actual or perceived threat of intervention, allows its whole-of-government efforts to resonate widely.”
— Russia Military Power Report, Defense Intelligence Agency, 2017.
Therefore, by freezing US military aid to Ukraine and also using such aid as leverage in the July 25 phone call with Ukraine to benefit his own 2020 Presidential campaign (!), Mr. Trump has therefore committed treason against the United States by giving military aid to our greatest enemy — Russia — by facilitating its colonial and military efforts against Ukraine and its fearsome efforts to revolve into a superpower-level villain.
We’re talking about treason here! This is not just a federal election campaign violation issue, Ms. Pelosi. There is no more serious crime nor more serious reason for impeachment. It’s treason, like what Benedict Arnold did or what Judas Iscariot did. Arnold didn’t shoot George Washington in the head: he undermined the US military’s efforts against our enemy by selling military secrets, and that was enough! Judas didn’t kill Jesus: he sold intel to the enemy, and for that he is rightly villainized in perpetuity.
What is different here in what this NY real estate developer and TV show host has done to our Democracy and our military posture against our most aggressive global threat, the entity that attacked our very election system in 2016? How should we deal with him other than as a treasonous scoundrel whose name should dwell in the nadir of history along with Benedict Arnold and Judas Iscariot?
How would we treat any other traitor?
Think how we would treat this matter if it were anyone other than the President of the United States.
What if hypothetically a powerful US Senator had done just this — tried to intimidate Ukraine by threatening to withhold military aid in its war against our common Russian enemy if the Ukrainian President did not help that Senator’s election campaign by publicly smearing his election rival?
What if a soldier in the US army had done anything to help Russia’s military colonial efforts against our Ukrainian allies?
How would we treat that Senator or that soldier? How would we punish them?
“I don’t see any reason why it would be Russia.”
- Our President, when asked about what he thinks of US Intelligence conclusions that Russia hacked the 2016 election. July 2018.
This is not some aberration. This is not a one-time mistake.
This is not the first time Mr. Trump has aided Russia, so much so that his own FBI opened an investigation in 2017 into whether Mr. Trump is actually a Russian asset!
- During his Presidency, while alienating our EU allies time and again in trade talk blow-outs, Mr. Trump has repeatedly commented about withdrawing from NATO, an act which would fatally weaken the most significant hurdle to Russia’s expansionist desires on the continent.
- Mr. Trump has shockingly withdrawn from the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Treaty with Russia, which has allowed Russia to expand its mid-range nuclear arsenal that most directly threaten Europe without fear of US sanctions!
- Our President has implicitly bolstered Russia’s military intervention in Syria by withdrawing US forces there.
- In August 2019, Mr. Trump called for Russia to be again included in the G-7, from which it was sensibly expelled for invading eastern Ukraine and annexing Crimea in 2014, thereby showing aggressive US support in deed (despite whatever words to the contrary) for Russia’s colonial efforts.
- Mr. Trump has employed in his administration and even in his Cabinet officials with major and deeply disturbing financial ties to Russia, thereby fomenting conflicts of interest that result in just these kinds of deeply problematic economic and military actions that repeatedly benefit Mr. Putin and his corrupt allies.
And now on top of everything else, Mr. Trump’s July 25 phone call with Ukraine also shows that Mr. Trump is again trying to relieve US hacking-related sanctions on Russia, a tremendous financial burden on that failing economy and the single greatest threat to Mr. Putin’s gnarled grip on his electorate, by pushing Mr. Zelensky to have Ukraine drum up false evidence (in conflict with all US Intelligence analyses to the contrary) that the 2016 hack on our election originated in Ukraine rather than in Russia!
“We’re gonna impeach the motherfucker!”
- Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib, January 2019.
Indeed, it it time to impeach Mr. Trump. What’s more, we must do so for the right reasons. He committed treason, and for this he should be impeached and then tried, convicted, and sentenced just as he himself would punish any other treasonous American:
“You know what we used to do in the old days when we were smart with spies and treason, right? We used to handle it a little differently than we do now.”
- Donald J. Trump, President of the United States of America, September 26, 2019.
Anything less would be a betrayal of the letter and spirit of US law, of our Democracy, and of ourselves.