Is Donald Trump a Traitor?
The question is asked precisely to raise eyebrows, but is it true? Many Americans feel that, although Mr. Trump has been elected President, his actions to date are more indicative of a foreign agent having taken over the Office of Presidency shared previously by patriots like Washington, Lincoln and the Roosevelts. Migrating into this group of Trump detractors are some who actually voted for and supported his ascendancy. Treason and its instrument, the traitor, are best identified in context. To King George, for example, the colonial uprising leading to our nation’s founding was an act of treason and its leaders, traitors.
The colonial view was quite different. In context most believed the Britons had overstepped their authority over their subjects and had, thus, justified their rebellion. In this case the loyalists to the crown, or Tories, provided cover for the crimes of the crown. The distinction is not without consequence. After all, if the colonists prevailed, the king would lose land and dominion over his rebellious subjects. If the king prevailed, the American leaders would be deemed traitors and lose their lives. Rebel sympathizers would be punished, Tories would profit and rule. Context matters, and perception is a short-lived luxury. After the fact, all that really matters is the result. And so, Georgetown is merely a toney neighborhood in Washington, the nation’s capital.
With regard to Donald Trump the distinctions are similar. The dictionary definition of treason “ the offense of attempting by overt acts to overthrow the government of the state to which the offender owes allegiance…” differs from the Constitutional requirement, stated in Article III, section 110, “Treason against the United States shall consist only in levying war against them, or in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort…”, but only in specifics. Whether a person is charged with “overt acts to overthrow…” or “levying war against…” is really a semantic difference. These are acts of agency and are generally most evident in the course of the treachery, but not, perhaps, at its start. Compare colonists sitting in a room and planning the rebellion, with a General Washington leading a military charge or a Ben Franklin negotiating for aid from the French. Providing the enemy with “aid and comfort” is a charge that can be easily determined and identified. One only has to determine what can be perceived as aid and comfort and whether the recipient is, indeed, an enemy.
The second part of that equation is what Donald Trump finds most difficult. He has spent the past few decades monetizing Russian interests and has gathered a team of advisors who have done the same. Using Occam’s razor, the simplest assumption would be to find the answer to “whom the president believes (a favorite Trump word) he owes his fealty”. Is it his country? His bottom line? His business partners? His answer should be a choice of only one of the above. The problem, at this point, is that his choice is not clear. Again using Occam, the simplest assumption is the most frightening. In all respects this president has openly, overtly, praised the leader of the United State’s long identified enemy. He has even stated his preference for Putin’s leadership over that of his predecessor in the White House. Trump has taken along with him the collective memory of the Republican Party, which has for the most part followed him down the rabbit hole of his own distorted revisionist history. After all, this is the party of Nixon’s “Pink Lady” campaign (millennials google Helen Gehagan Douglas), McCarthy’s “hearings”, and the Red Scare. The latter day Republican Party has been associated with patriotism and avowed hatred of Soviet Russia and its deconstruction under Ronald Reagan. None of its past leaders and, pre Trump, few if any, of its congressional leadership, would fellow travel with Donald Trump into his bizarre wonderland in which up is down and down is up. And there’s the rub.
Traitors require the aid of toadies and sycophants, enablers who allow themselves to be used out of fear or profit. Donald Trump has enlisted the support of those who would profit from or fear his rule. Like so-called “good Germans” of the third Reich who blindly followed the fuhrer, their loyalty is not a virtue. Down is up… Trump’s administration is rife with toadies in charge of overthrowing the very departments they were appointed to lead. The “Breitbartian imperative’ to deconstruct the administrative state is truly an unadorned attempt to overthrow our government. If this isn’t treason it sure is a near relative. If one simply follows the course taken so far by the administration, its penchant for secrecy and lies, a propensity for bombast and intimidation, one is left with an impression that these tactics suggest authoritarianism. Mr. Trump himself has an odd affinity for autocrats and other dictators not named Putin who share an ability to help the Trump Organization and its friends. Taken together, the attributes of the Trump presidency so far display a mercenary disregard for democratic principles. The focus of the policy goals so far displayed by the president and his adopted party are, to be kind, a harsher demand for personal bootstrapping — a harshness that had been eased and softened by previous administrations and congresses who viewed the evolution as advances and the fruits of democratic governance. Domestic policies from Social Security, to the War on Poverty, to Civil and Voting Rights legislation, and.most recently health care, have all been heralded as precisely a function and advantage of living in a democracy.
The first quarter of the first year of the Trump regime is oddly troubling for its lack of focus and fumbling. It argues more for incompetence than treason. Yet, the new wars on climate change, medicaid, tax policy, and health care augur well only for the plutocrats. To the average citizen the Trump and congressional republican agenda reverts to harshness and bootstrapping. For the rich and comfortable, the difference is between helping oneself through your own resources, and helping yourself through the resources and on the backs of others — a perfect unraveling of the social contract based on greed and diffidence.
To get to the point, is Donald Trump a traitor? Can a person unknowingly be a party to treason through incompetence and naivete? Is the latter an excuse or cover for treasonous acts? An honest observer is hard-pressed to evaluate the administration’s actions to date as benign. The Russian involvement in the Trump election victory, whether it caused the result or simply swelled its tide, is problematic. Being the candidate preferred by Vladimir Putin, the Russian “thugacrat,” is not laudatory as our interests are hardly aligned with Russia’s. If collusion is proved, as it has been strongly suggested, it would argue for encouraging an enemy to meddle further. The activities of those in and around the Trump campaign as early as March 2016 further suggest collusion. The secrecy and dissembling of the contacts made with Russian nationals by Michael Flynn, Paul Manafort, Jeff Sessions, Roger Stone, Carter Page, and Jared Kushner are well chronicled and, frankly, are too many to be coincidental. Yet, Trump and his associates plead just that. Placed in context, however, the intent of these meetings become more suspicious and troubling. Add to the suspicions the information that several of the Trump associates lied about payments made either directly or indirectly by the Russians, or, in the case of the president’s son-in-law, dealings that promised business advantages at the expense of our nation’s security, and you have opportunity and motive for treason. Without the clarity that the release of Trump’s recent tax returns might provide, it can fairly be assumed that Trump’s dalliance with Russia stems from his need for operating cash. Subsequent to his numerous bankruptcies in the past, his toxic status when seeking financing for his real estate ventures here at home are well known. Russian financing would be the weakness that could explain the Trump love and excusal of totalitarianism. Again, Occam’s Razor would suggest that short of other evidence and because of the secrecy and deception being used by Trump to obfuscate what might be exculpatory explanations, the clearest and most obvious answer is that Russia owns Trump, and he is repaying his debt at our expense.
The quid pro quo that the Russian’s might require for their support of the Trump presidency is also patently clear. The promise of eliminating sanctions rightfully imposed by the Obama administration for prior Russian transgressions, including its actions against Ukraine, the annexation of Crimea, and the shooting down of the Malaysian jetliner in July, 2014 en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, are undisputed. The Malaysia Airlines plane crashed after being hit by a Russian-made Buk missile over eastern Ukraine, that had been reason enough for a casus belli for Republicans at the time, is now forgotten, if not forgiven, in return for Russian favor. There are no simpler explanations for this behavior. Congressional republicans can no longer use the dissembling by the administration as a cover for their complicity. With the coming investigation of Robert Mueller and the FBI investigation, Senate republicans seem to be admitting the obvious and are also involved in an investigation of their own. The question is no longer can Trump endure his own public dismantling, it is rather can our nation endure the misadventures of a traitor-in-chief.
Given the alternatives, and even offering the benefit of the doubt, the confluence of events and disclosures strongly suggest treachery. The only one who can dispel this fateful conclusion is Donald Trump himself. Short of the transparency he has so far steadfastly avoided, he has built a case for his own undoing. In the words of Benjamin Franklin, himself deemed a traitor by his king, “Tricks and treachery are the practice of fools, that don’t have brains enough to be honest.” The proof is in the practice, the truth lies in its transparency. Donald Trump is a traitor whether he realizes it or not.