The Brouhaha Over Trump’s ‘Treason’

That the national security threat we are talking about today is Donald Trump rather than Hillary Clinton illustrates the wayward state of our politics.

Mrs. Clinton operated unlawful, amateurishly non-secure email servers and mishandled classified information – including the nation’s most closely guarded defense secrets, involving deep-cover informants and highly sensitive intelligence-gathering methods. She did these things in such a criminally reckless manner that it is virtually certain the ruthlessly adept Russian intelligence services (to say nothing of the Chinese, the Iranians, other sinister regimes, and cyber savvy jihadist organizations) have easily penetrated her communications and obtained our intelligence. In addition, though her emails were government records, she destroyed thousands of them.

Clinton has thus committed serious felony violations of federal law. These violations are flagrant betrayals of her public trust, the essence of high crimes and misdemeanors, the constitutional standard for impeachment.

Nevertheless, tonight, one of our country’s two major political parties will nominate her to be the next president of the United States. That is atrocious … yet the story dominating today’s news is not Mrs. Clinton’s criminal and impeachable offenses; it is whether Donald Trump is guilty of treason.

Yes, treasonit’s apparently okay to use the word now. It is a word Republicans and their fellow ruling class Democrats would heretofore condemn any national security-minded American for using to describe the aid and comfort President Obama has given to our Iranian enemy. It is a word we still dare not utter in connection with the Obama/Clinton embrace of anti-American Islamists. But Trump’s own lack of restraint has evidently licensed Trump critique as a restraint-free activity.

And what on this occasion makes Trump guilty of treason rather than all-too-familiar Trumpian bombast? It is claimed that he has encouraged a hostile nation, Vladimir Putin’s Russia, to conduct espionage against Mrs. Clinton for the purpose of influencing an American election.

This claim, it should be noted, comes from Democrats and Republicans who – it seems like only yesterday – have told us that Russia, far from being hostile, was our strategic partner. It comes from a Democratic nominee who, as secretary of state, enabled Russia to take control of one-fifth of the uranium production capacity of the United States while millions in relevant donations and speaking fees flowed to the Clinton Foundation and her husband. And as for the scourge of foreign influence on American elections, the money that came the Clintons’ way thanks to the Russian uranium deal is but a small fraction of the foreign “donations” that have poured into their “charitable” foundation – influence purchases from what donors hope will be the next Clinton administration.

The world is upside down.

Here is what Trump said:

Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing. I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press… By the way they hacked, they probably have her 33,000 e-mails. I hope they do. They probably have her 33,000 e-mails that she lost and deleted because you’d see some beauties there. So let’s see.

On their face – silly as I feel for taking the time to analyze something this stupid – Trump’s remarks did not, even in a jocular way, do what his hair-trigger critics accuse him of. Now, this is Trump we’re talking about so it’s not exactly linear and coherent, but he basically said he hopes the Russians are able to find the 30,000-plus Clinton emails that he goes on to say they “probably have.” He did not suggest that the Russians conduct an espionage operation; Trump assumes, as many sensible people do (and as the FBI director strongly suggested), that a famously competent and aggressive intelligence service has already conducted what would have been an easy espionage operation against Clinton’s servers (which, by the way are now defunct and in the possession of the FBI, not of Clinton.)