Did Trump Commit Treason?
In Constitutional Law, treason is a term that is vaguely defined. Overspecificity renders policewoman (or the enforcers of the law) too powerful in regards to determining which agents committed treason, and thus the power to sentence the agent to death. Giving too much power to the enforcers of the law undermines the ability of the courts (or the judges of fairness in society) to interpret the law’s breadth. This broad definition, as seen below, maintains a balance of power within a just, democratic society.
“Treason against the United States shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or Confession in open Court.” — U.S. Constitution
In short, this quote says that treason is an act of crime against the sovereign state of the United States.
But what qualifies as a crime against the sovereign state? While a very general statement, it means an act of insurrection that seeks to undermine the legitimate and rightfully elected government of the United States.
Historically, a person can be tried for treason only if they are a citizen of a country that they commit the act of treason against. An example of this is if Donald Trump (an American citizen) commits a crime (leads the seizure of the U.S. Capitol building) against his own country (the United States of America) in an attempt to topple the rightfully elected President of the United States.
So has he done this? If yes, what has he done that is treasonous? And even more importantly, what is the United States going to do about it?
The Attempted Coup at the U.S. Capitol Building
On January 6th, 2020, under the direction of President Donald Trump, radical Trump supporters launched an attempted coup on the Capitol building in the U.S. capital. Rioters failed to stop the ceremonious confirmation by Congress of Joe Biden, the 46th President of the United States, and Vice President Kamala Harris. The confirmation hearing resumed after the lockdown. This attempted coup was directed by Donald Trump, as seen in his tweets to gather in Washington, D.C. to overturn the results of the Presidential 2020 election.
Hundreds of radical Trump supporters scaled the walls, broke windows and doors, and successfully seized the U.S. Capitol building. This forced Congress to take a recess from the confirmation hearing and seek shelter with armed guards from violent rioters. Pictures and videos document radical rioters stealing confidential documents from Senate Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s office and, outrageously, sitting in Pelosi’s office chair with his feet on the Senate Minority Leader’s desk. Other videos show rioters in the rotunda of the Capitol building and Capitol police taking selfies with rioters.
Notably, congressional aides saved the leather cases of Presidential election votes from the Capitol Building Rotunda. It is believed that the votes would have been destroyed by the treasonous Trump supporters had the women not secured the votes once the rioters broke into the building.
With hundreds of Congresswomen and men in the Capitol building during this attack, this event carries significant symbolism for the sacrilege nature of the crime by the traitors against the U.S. leaders in the highest levels of government in the sovereign state.
Historically, this senate confirmation hearing is pivotal to the passing of the torch between the current and next President of the United States in a peaceful transition of power. The launch of the Capitol riots was an attempt to interrupt or halt this event, which cements it as a failed coup, and thus, an act of treason against the United States of America.
The first idea that springs to mind when reading headlines of the Capitol attack is that of a banana republic. A third world country in which the poor, uneducated citizens see the only means forward is by way of violence and insurrection by the losing side in a fair and just democratic election to place the losing candidate in the position of power.
Going Back to the Beginning
In my African American Politics class, my black professor highlighted a core blind spot of the U.S. education system. He asked us how July 4th, 1776 would have been viewed if the colonies didn’t win the war. Didn’t gain independence from Britain.
My mind went blank.
I had no idea, and neither did anyone else in the class, it seemed. As I looked around the room, all I saw were wide eyes and empty thoughts that reflected mine. I think my professor knew this because he was staring back at a class of students who had only ever received schooling within the American education system, and thus, learned about the history of their country entirely from the white male American perspective.
The professor continued, as it was clear none of us knew the answer to his question.
He stated that if the 13 colonies lost the American Revolution to the British, then the actions leading up to it: the Boston tea party, the tarring and feathering of British government tax officials, and the Declaration of Independence would not have been acts of bravery and revolution for the birth of the United States. They would have been acts of treason. And the heads of our forefathers would have ended up on pikes.
You see, history is not just about the facts. It is about the way that winners frame history from their perspective for future generations to learn about.
Slavery and Economic Boom
Reframing U.S. history from the white male perspective is a tale as old as time. This is why American citizens never learned in middle school about the enormous economic impact slavery contributed to the Southern economy.
This was a major reason why slaveowners didn’t want to end slavery.
Slavery did not generate as much revenue in the North, and therefore the Northern states did not have as much as a necessity to maintain slavery in the United States.
The abolishment of slavery wasn’t just about the South being evil and the North being good. But the North won the Civil War and didn’t need slavery to hold together its Northern economy, so that’s why it was written this way.
In doing this, the reframing of history has negatively impacted African Americans for generations. It has taken away the grueling contributions that slaves and their descendants have given to the United States.
Donald Trump is the third U.S. President in history who was impeached by the House of Representatives. Trump solicited Ukrainian influence in the 2020 U.S. Presidential Elections so that he can steal the election.
This alone unequivocally confirms that Donald Trump has committed treason against the United States.
As big of a bombshell that a sitting U.S. president reached out to a foreign agent to sway domestic elections undeniably confirms that he only had his own selfish reasons in mind to win the election, regardless of whether or not the result reflected the will of the people.
But many of us saw this coming. We saw the malicious actions Trump committed throughout the 2016 election and his only presidential term. We heard the divisive rhetoric that emboldened his supporters to racist acts. We felt his delusions of grandeur corrode the moral fiber of what we once thought the U.S. stood for.
But with an attempted coup, the event has become too shocking and disturbing of a reality for us on either side to ignore his insane, selfish acts against our countrywomen and our nation. We must call this for what it is: treason. And from the highest office in the land.
As seen in the resulting win of President Joe Biden in the 2020 President Election, our sovereign nation has shown that the will of the people is not Donald Trump. And using a foreign Ukrainian power to undermine and disempower one of the pillars of our society is not just underhanded, but a criminal abuse of power that attacks the democratic values of the United States.
But what happens next and will he be punished?
Treason is not just a vague legal term, but it’s also reflective of the winner within a particular historical time. Punishing someone for treason is often used as a political tool to dissuade any traitors who attempt to assail the sovereignty of the United States.
But what can we do when the enemy is at the helm of the ship?
Certainly, the plan is not to sink the whole ship. But are there legal or criminal recourses that can be taken once Trump leaves office? As President of the United States, Trump has pardoning power that he can give to U.S. citizens convicted of criminal offenses at the federal level. However, Trump does not have the ability to pardon himself for federal offenses of high crimes and treason.
In 1973, Richard Nixon, the 2nd president impeached in U.S. history, resigned from the Presidency. His Vice President filled the space of President of the U.S. Then, the V.P. used his resulting presidential power to pardon Nixon of federal crimes committed during Watergate.
In theory, Trump can resign from the office of the Presidency and Pence can then pardon Trump with his resulting Presidential Pardon.
However, this pardon would not protect Trump from state or local crimes that were committed. Some state crimes that Trump would be subject to investigation and imprisonment would include Trump’s call to the Georgia Secretary of State in which Trump coerced and borderline blackmailed the high-ranking state official to “find” (or falsify) 12,000 votes in the Georgia President Election. These 12,000 votes would give Trump the state of Georgia that Biden rightfully and undoubtedly won in the Presidential election.
This phone call is a state crime. As a presidential candidate in the 2020 election, Trump contacted an elected official with an active intent to undermine the legitimate results of a state election. This is a crime punishable by a fine and/or jail time.
The 2020 Presidential election was won by Biden by very close numbers in key swing states and counties. Biden won by an overwhelming amount of electoral college votes. However, the popular vote reflects a very close vote between Biden and Trump.
The resulting numbers reflect a very clear picture of a divided ideological America in the 21st century.
There are deep systemic issues in modern-day America. We’re in a nationalistic society that is culturally myopic and little regard for international influence. Our healthcare system is organized as a key economic sector in which profits are valued over people. In the U.S., people work 40 hours a week making minimum wage, and still cannot afford to make rent. Millions of young people who graduate from college are overburdened by student loan debt for decades to come by greedy for-profit universities.
All of this is caused, enabled, or resulting from the negligence of greedy, selfish senators and a congresswoman who are more concerned about raising campaign funds than actually doing their jobs and improving the lives of people living in the U.S.
The United States has created, sustained, and bolstered a system that takes advantage of its citizens for far too long. Citizens are emboldened by a passion for what is thought to be a moral argument between fighting for LGBT rights, maintaining one’s own right to self-defense against the military, and taxation on corporations to bolster education, roadways, and parks. However, this isn’t a moral problem, it is a systemic one where the government is not working for its citizens, and instead for corporations. Our passion has been wrongly focused on the symptoms, rather than the disease.
Trump gets his power because he stands for Americans who have been neglected by the government for generations. His 2016 Presidential victory and recent uprisings against the government is reflective of the deep political divide of the U.S. that has been brewing for decades.
Anti-Semitism, White Nationalism, and Trump
However, it is clear that the white nationalist monster that Trump has fed fodder to over the last 5 years, is not just borne of frustrations and ailments that result from deeply poisonous problems in the United States of America.
The act of the radical Trump rioters who attempted a coup on the U.S. Capitol building points to something much eviler in intention, as referenced by the clothing that treasonous Trump supporters wore, which read “6MWE”. This acrostic stands for “6 Million Wasn’t Enough”. It implies the grotesque idea that Nazi Germany's execution of 6 million Jews during the Holocaust was not enough. It also calls to mind the disturbing eugenics associated with it.
How overwhelmingly and viscerally disgusting a symbol the rioters exhibited during the riots.
To point to the worst atrocity committed in the history of humankind and not learn from it. To not seek to improve life for themselves and their children moving forward from it. But to seek to inflict further harm using the hateful symbol.
Whilst Trump undoubtedly deserves punishment, he is not the tumor but a pus-filled, smelly symptom of the long-brewing problems in the U.S. that has finally gotten the nation’s attention.
Trump’s actions and his directives to inflame such treasonous actions against his countrywoman are unacceptable.
But Trump did not act alone.
He was supported by the suffering experienced by Americans. This was caused by the generations of the U.S. government using its citizens as pawns to generate revenue for its soulless corporations.
He has supported by a dozen Republican Congressmen and women who objected to the formal confirmation of Joe Biden as the 46th President of the United States. And thus their adjudication as representatives of the will of the people.
He is supported by multiple federal agencies, namely the FBI, Homeland Security, and CIA, who have yet to release public statements about active arrests made of treasonous rioters who seized a major American hallmark. Without their official statements and righteous condemnation of such a coup in the United States, the federal agencies have just as much culpability as Trump, the Congressmen and women, and the rioters.
A key to figuring out whether or not Trump will be held accountable for his treason is looking at the other political actors within this event.
This includes whether or not Congress moves to impeach Trump, and finally removing him from office. Because the House of Representatives has already impeached Trump, Congress’s decision to impeach will officially remove Trump from office.
It also depends on federal agencies moving to indict Trump and the individuals involved in the Capitol coup on federal charges.
What Needs to Change
Another part of this is implementing solutions for systemic issues that have caused the hurt we see in everyone in America. Abolishing corporate involvement in political campaigns so that our healthcare system is about the people again, and not the politics. Putting into place economic plans that help a student pay off their student loans that can both pay off their debt but also contribute equally to their own financial stability and future. Creating a universal basic income that ensures that working full-time will guarantee making rent and putting food on the table for your family.
The citizens of the United States are perturbed and scared by the actions of its unstable Commander-in-Chief. But we are not surprised, for this is a result of a foment that has been 5 years in the making. Of hate, distrust, and division with our neighbors. Of an unveiling of the deep injustice that affects our fellow Americans.
We are tired and we are worn by #BreakingNews every hour for the last 5 years by some callous, damaging remark Trump carelessly tweeted about veterans, the disabled, and other foreign nuclear powers.
But the past 5 years has also made the most passive of us seethe with anger. Until the anger didn’t just come off us in waves but out of us through powerful words that call to action against the injustice Trump has stood for, the unjust society he is making the world believe we are, and the moral bankruptcy he displays time and time again.
To not waver in the face of injustice and inequality, even as it thickened in the atmosphere around us and held its hand around our necks like a noose about to tighten.
And despite all the hatred that Trump has spewed, selfishly, and thoughtlessly for our citizens and our nation, we must remember the victories we have achieved collectively as a society during this time.
The courage and tenacity essential workers defined in the face of a global pandemic, the increase of voter turnout by more than 10%, the humanity displayed for our neighbors during the fires that ravaged the West coast. There are so many more good things that happened and it is human to focus only on the bad. But when you become bogged down, as surely as we all do, try and remember all the good that has happened despite the bad. Remember the strength that lives inside you still, despite all the attacks on our nation.
And hold tight. To your beliefs. Your values. And your loved ones. And as hard as it may seem, lean on one another, even if your political beliefs do not align. Because we are neighbors, still. And if we remained neighbors through this, we can remain so through anything.