18 U.S. Code § 2381 – Treason
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.
True to form, Obama has been careful and measured in characterizing the political and legal implications of Russia’s scheme to put Trump in the White House. But while Obama may feel constrained by the weighty obligation to ensure a peaceful transfer of power, neither the media nor we citizens are similarly limited. If Trump or members of his campaign had knowledge of or where complicit in Russia’s scheme, we can and should call that by its rightful name: treason.
Here’s what is known to date.
Russia illegally hacked the DNC and selectively released content to Wikileaks with the intent of promoting a Trump win in the US presidential election. The CIA, FBI and Director of National Intelligence agree on this.
At the same time, Trump has taken surprising steps — surprising especially coming from the historically anti-Putin GOP camp — to soften the US position on Russia. Indeed, due to influence of the Trump team, a softer position on Russia was even made part of the GOP’s platform. Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign manager, has had extensive political dealings with the Russian government, as have Trump surrogates Carter Page and Jack Kingston. Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, Trump’s future National Security Adviser, has appeared as a commentator for Russian state television and sat with Vladimir Putin at a Russian gala. Trump’s pick for Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, also is quite simpatico with Putin, even having received Russia’s Order of Friendship award from Putin. Trump himself has openly praised Putin and Donald, Jr. has touted Trump Inc.’s extensive business interests in Russia and the “money pouring in from Russia.” Russia’s deputy foreign minister stated that Moscow had contacts with members of the Trump campaign during the election and that Team Trump folks have been staying in touch with Russian representatives since then. The latest news is that a former Trump surrogate is in Russia preparing American businesses operating there for the soon to come lifting of the US sanctions against Russia. (Sorry, Ukraine!)
In other words, the connections between Trump & Co. and Russia are known and multiple. How then can we ignore the obvious possibility that Trump or members of his campaign conspired with the Russians on their scheme? And how can we deny what appears to be a possible quid pro quo in which Russia is receiving benefits due to its help in getting Trump elected?
Given the seriousness of these implications, it would be fully justified for the Electoral College to delay its vote until this matter can be fully investigated. In any case, we who love this country, regardless of party affiliation, should insist that the Obama administration thoroughly investigate not just what happened in regard to the Russian hacking, but why and with whose knowledge. In the end, saving our democracy may be the greatest legacy of the Obama administration.