Trump Whips Out the ‘T’ Word in Ohio

President's charge of treason fails to come close to Constitutional standard

President Donald Trump said in Ohio on Monday that Democrats committed treason when they did not applaud his State of the Union address. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)
President Donald Trump said in Ohio on Monday that Democrats committed treason when they did not applaud his State of the Union address. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)
Posted February 5, 2018 at 3:40pm

President Donald Trump on Monday labeled Democrats “treasonous” for their reactions to his State of the Union address and said he looks forward to running against them in 2018 and 2020. His allegation, however, fails to meet the Constitution’s standard for that major crime.

During an official event obstensibly about the GOP tax law at a cylinder factory in Ohio, Trump called congressional Democrats “treasonous” for not applauding during his State of the Union address last Tuesday night.

Their collective reaction shows they “would rather see Trump do badly than our country do well. It’s very selfish,” he said. “They were like death and un-American. Someone said … treasonous.. Yeah, why not? They certainly didn’t seem to love our country very much.”

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Trump’s comment was far afield of how the Constitution defines treason. Here is how Article 3, Section 3 of the Constituion defines treason:

“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 on Confession in open Court.

“The Congress shall have power to declare the Punishment of Treason, but no Attainder of Treason shall work Corruption of Blood, or Forfeiture except during the Life of the Person attainted.”

The attack on Democrats came as what was an official White House event began shifting toward a free-wheeling campaign-style event.

It also marked the second time in the day he levied a serious legal charge at Democratic members; he fired off a morning tweet charging House Intelligence ranking member Adam Schiff of California with leaking classified information.

That broadside came just as the GOP president needs to strike a deal with congressional Democrats to avert another government shutdown later this week. His aides and congressional GOP members also are trying to fashion an immigration accord with Democrats even as their boss lambastes the opposition party.

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Trump offered a likely preview of part of his 2018 midterm campaign message Monday, saying House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer have dragged the party “so far to the left.”

“Oh, I look forward to running against them,” he said. “I think we’re going to do well. … They want to raise your taxes.”

Pelosi’s office wasn’t impressed.

“As the Dow nosedives on his watch, the President’s rambling, deceitful tax scam sales pitch reached an all-time low in Cincinnati,” Pelosi spokesman Drew Hammill said, referring to the Dow Jones Industrial Average sell-off on Monday.

He also took a shot at Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, who is running for re-election this year — without naming him. He told an audience there that no Democrats voted for the GOP tax law, “including your other senator.”

“He voted against it. … If they ever took over your taxes would go up,” Trump said Monday of congressional Democrats. “And it would not be good.”

He urged his supporters against feeling complacent, which he warned would drive down GOP turnout. “We’re not going to let it happen to us,” he said of midterm congressional losses that often plague first-term presidents.

“Start thinking about ’18,” he told his supporters. “Start thinking about November.”