INTRODUCTION: I wrote this back in the second week of January. But I didn't publish it then because I was afraid my instincts were running away with me. Guess I should have trusted my instincts! At age 80, why not?
The NY Times story referred to is the one Trump saw that led him recently, though belatedly, to say Obama had wire-tapped him. In the most bizarre twist in a presidency ever, Trump's claim did two things to hurt him: (1) it meant a court had found probable cause to issue a warrant to put him under surveilllance, and (2) the screams from him and GOP Congressmen for the FBI to investigate the "tapping" pushed the Congressional investigation that yesterday hosted FBI Director James Comey announcing Trump and his cohort had indeed been under investigation all along for collusion with the Russians and that Obama had not done the wire-tapping.
In seeking to distract from his Russian Connection with an accusation against Obama, Trump has shot himself in both feet! He's been now labeled a liar by the head of the FBI and he is identified as being under criminal investigation. So, belatedly from mid-January, here it is at last, what I wrote then but withheld. Maybe we should call it "Trump the Traitor"?]
The New York Times' top story this morning [January 11] uses the word "treasonous" in discussing newly-leaked intelligence reports that Trump colluded with the Russians in anti-American acts. Trump Briefed on Claim That Russia Had Secrets on Him. Treason, as you likely know, is a capital offense and the only crime defined in the Constitution.
The Times first refers to Russian-held video tape of Trump's sex with prostitutes and then says, "If some of the unproven claims in the memos are merely titillating, others would amount to extremely serious, potentially treasonous acts." [Emphasis added.] These acts would include colluding with the Russians in their hacking into an American election.
To get to this point, the Times hurriedly brushes aside the sex to get to the treason. The sex tapes (if they exist) were merely a tool in the treason, making it easier for the Russians to blackmail Trump into treasonous collusion and into the "friendship" he is indeed now extending Russia, including letting the Russians gobble Ukraine without protest and appointing as Secretary of State a pro-Russian oil man who wants to remove the sanctions the US has applied to Russia regarding its illegal oil dealings with Iran.
We especially care about treason nine days before the presidential inauguration of the alleged traitor!
It's probably unrealistic to hope that this issue can be resolved before January 20. Nevertheless at least one Congressman has overnight demanded an investigation: "Democrats on Tuesday night pressed for a thorough investigation of the claims in the memos. Representative Eric Swalwell of California, a member of the House Intelligence Committee, called for law enforcement to find out whether the Russian government had had any contact with Mr. Trump or his campaign." donald-trump-russia-intelligence.html. From the report leaked by the CIA and the other intel agencies (see the foregoing cites), it appears that the agencies are in fact investigating just that.
And as for Trump "contact" with the Russians, he has himself boasted of such trips and contacts.
Were these contacts treasonous? Are you aware in all our history of a walk-up to the inauguration when the question is whether the president-to-be has committed treason? The fact that the New York Times uses the term is itself significant. The Times is the premier news outlet in the world. And the word "treason" carries a red-letter label in journalism: "Use only with extreme caution."
The legal community is also chary of the term. In fact, "treason" prosecutions under the Constitution are so difficult to win that prosecutors typically proceed under other broader laws, such as the Espionage Act of 1917.
Perhaps soon we will hear the law book pages turning throughout Washington D.C. and elsewhere as interested parties begin carefully reading the Espionage Act and its brethren.
You did notice, didn't you, that this is the centennial of the 1917 Act?
Are we about to celebrate its enactment in a very vivid fashion?