The news of Donald Trump Jr.’s email conversation with a Russian lawyer had the effect you probably thought it would. Social media exploded, CNN had reason to continue their non-stop coverage for at least another month, and pundits on the left went crazy. The most outlandish comment comes from former vice-presidential candidate and current U.S. Senator Tim Kaine. It’s his opinion that Trump committed treason by meeting Natalia Veselnitskaya.
Treason? Really? Kaine is a lawyer. Does he not know what constitutes treason according to the statute? Was he out the day they taught law at Harvard Law School?
Treason is the only crime mentioned in the Constitution. It is defined in Article 3 as:
“Whoever, owing allegiance to the United States, either levies war against them or adheres to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort with the U.S. or elsewhere.”
Treason is codified in 18 USC § 2381 as:
“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.”
The last I checked, U.S. is not at war with Russia. Adversaries, political and economic rivals, sure, but not at war. The Cold War wasn’t even a war (remember President Obama telling Mitt Romney that the “eighties wants its foreign policy back?) Even if the younger Trump received information (a claim he denies), on what earth is he waging war against the U.S. or aiding the enemy.
Here’s the cold truth – meeting with a Russian lawyer is not treason, period.
Let’s assume Don Trump is lying (as I’m sure many believe) and his father’s campaign received and acted on information provided at the meeting. Guess what? It still doesn’t meet the required threshold. Under the U.S. Constitution, we are permitted to speak out against the government, undermine political opponents, support harmful policies or even place the interests of another nation ahead of those of the U.S. It happens all the time – just go over to CNN.
How hard is it to earn an indictment for treason? Ask Julius and Ethel Rosenberg. In 1953, they were convicted of espionage after handing our nuclear secrets to the Soviet Union. The Rosenbergs were charged with espionage, not treason, and these were nuclear secrets. There was a reason for that.
The Invisible Collusion Statute
Now, on to the dirtiest word of the year, collusion. Anyone making the mistake of watching the nightly news, going on the Internet, or even breezing past a newspaper has seen the claims. A myriad of assertions emanating from our once vaunted media allege that the Trump campaign committed the criminal offense of “collusion” with the Russians.
Of course, I have yet to hear a single statute referenced that makes colluding with a foreign government in a political campaign a crime. Unethical? Yep. Slimy? Absolutely. But I dare you to find anywhere in America’s criminal codes where it is a crime outside of Section 1 of the Sherman Antitrust Act which forbids anti-competitive activities.
Collusion is one of those words writers used to conjure the appearance of criminal behavior. The white hat version of the word is collaboration. It sounds like a dirty word for those looking to portray the president as such. It has nothing whatsoever to do with elections and political campaigns. Unless, of course, you are looking to market hysteria or get a special counsel named.
On a side note, special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation is a pointless waste of tax dollars. He is tasked with finding a crime that, unless someone can find and point it out in the comments below, does not exist in the law. An indictment is a legal impossibility. Mueller, and his investigation, are a sideshow. One costing the already debt-laden American people millions.
Getting Into the Weeds
If there is anyplace the collusion crowd can point to that I found, it’s 18 USC §371. Boldly titled “Conspiracy to commit offense or to defraud United States,” the law states:
If two or more persons conspire either to commit any offense against the United States, or to defraud the United States, or any agency thereof in any manner or for any purpose, and one or more of such persons do any act to effect the object of the conspiracy, each shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than five years, or both.
It can be argued that an election is a lawful government function. Acting on damaging information about your political opponent by disseminating it to the public (again, if that happened) does not meet the “deceitful or dishonest” threshold unless it could be proven that the information was hacked from DNC servers or otherwise obtained illegally.
If it could be, then under the Federal Election Campaign Act, that information may be considered a foreign donation prohibited under 11 CFR 110.20. There is no legal precedence for this, but the argument can be made. It’s probably a moot point since Trump Natalia Veselnitskaya agree that no information related to the presidential campaign was ever exchanged.
Collusion, Treason, and Inaction
The president’s detractors want this to be a crime. They want a reason behind Hillary Clinton’s November election loss to a man they believe is unfit to be president. Unfortunately, meeting with Russians is not a crime. Ill-advised, yes, but not illegal and certainly not treason.
And that comes to the reason why this story is becoming a national tragedy. With all the allegations about Russian meddling in the election, not a thing has been done about it. Should our political candidates be even entertaining the idea of using foreign information about opponents? No. Should Russia be held accountable for its actions in the election? Yes, if it can be proven it came directly from the government.
Congress should take the lessons of the last election and pass a bill that gets signed into law that would criminalize “collusion” with foreign governments by political campaigns. Anything to avoid a repeat of this scandal/non-scandal. They won’t pas a bill, but they should. Congress rarely cares what the American people thinks or say.
In the meantime, until it can be proven that meddling changed votes in a ballot box, the only people the Americans should be pointing to about the outcome of the election is themselves. You can blame misinformation all you want. You make decisions every day based on it. You are bombarded with it non-stop. It’s called the mainstream media. It’s called the Internet.
Welcome to the Mis-Information Age.
Did I miss something? If you find a statute that covers collusion, I would love to see it! Please post in the comments section so I can check it out. Also check out my post on the media’s Anti-Trump Disorder.Click here for reuse options!
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