Donald Trump

Trump Thinks His Critics Are Traitors, and They Sling the Charge Back at Him

Is it possible for Americans to argue about politics and policy without accusing each other of betraying the country?


Yesterday Donald Trump effusively thanked the Republican legislators who went to bat for him during the Mueller hearings. "I very much appreciate those incredible warriors that you watched today on television—Republicans—that defended something, and defended something very powerful, very important," he told reporters. "Because they were really defending our country. More than anything else, they were defending our country."

Sound familiar? During his rally in North Carolina last week, Trump excoriated Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), who in January promised "we're going to impeach the motherfucker." In Trump's mind, that comment was evidence the Tlaib hates America. "Tlaib also used the F-word to describe the presidency and the president," he said. "That's not nice, even for me. She was describing the president of the United States and the presidency with the big, fat, vicious—the way she said it—vicious F-word. That's not somebody that loves our country."

Whatever you think about the case for impeachment, this is a pretty creepy way of describing people who dare to criticize the president, profanely or not. Yesterday on Twitter, Trump called the argument that he obstructed justice when he tried to stop, limit, and control the Mueller investigation an "illegal and treasonous attack on our Country." Trump likewise has called former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein's suggestion that Justice Department officials record their conversations with him after he fired FBI Director James Comey "illegal and treasonous." The Mueller investigation itself was a "Phony & Treasonous Hoax" involving "treasonous acts," according to the president.

Even failing to applaud Trump during his State of the Union address might qualify as treason, he suggested last year. "Somebody said 'treasonous,'" he said during a visit to Cincinnati. "I mean, yeah, I guess, why not. Can we call that treason? Why not? I mean, they certainly didn't seem to love our country very much." When The New York Times published an anonymous op-ed piece by an administration official who was critical of the president, that was also "treason" in Trump's book. Likewise Democratic opposition to his immigration policies.

Legally speaking, treason, which is punishable by death, happens when an American wages war against the United States, "adheres" to the country's enemies (defined as nations or organizations that are at war with the U.S.), or "gives aid and comfort" to them. Trump is obviously speaking more loosely (although he did say last May that investigating his 2016 presidential campaign was "TREASON," which "means long jail sentences"). But even colloquially, treason implies a betrayal of the nation. Hence Trump is equating attacks on him with attacks on the country.

His fans may see no problem with that, since they like Trump and therefore are not guilty of treason, according to his definition. But they might react differently to a Democratic president who routinely suggested that criticizing him, investigating him, or calling for his impeachment is or should be illegal because it gives aid and comfort to America's enemies. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't recall Barack Obama or George W. Bush using that sort of rhetoric when people said they should be impeached.

For Trump's detractors, the temptation to turn the treason charge around is strong. Former White House adviser Stephen Bannon said Donald Trump Jr.'s June 2016 meeting with a Russian lawyer who claimed to have dirt on Hillary Clinton was "treasonous." Last February, Malcolm Nance, a counter-terrorism and intelligence consultant, opined that "the president of the United States may have committed treason." Political consultant Rick Wilson, former CIA Director John Brennan, former State Department official John Shattuck, presidential historian Jon Meacham, and New York Times columnist Charles Blow, to name a few, have all accused the president of treason. In those cases, there is at least a hypothetical foreign nexus, but Trump's alleged misdeeds still do not meet the legal definition, which requires aiding a country that is at war with the United States.

All this talk of treason is about as productive as Trump's response to the charge that he's racist. I'm not a bigot, he says; you're a bigot. When everyone's a traitor, no one is a traitor, because the word loses all meaning. Tossing it around so casually is poisonous to rational debate and feeds a hyper-partisan atmosphere in which every position someone takes has to be judged, first and foremost, by whether it is pro- or anti-Trump. Is it possible for Americans to argue about politics and policy without accusing each other of betraying the country? It's not a rhetorical question.

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  1. Tribalism really gets in the way of self-actualization.

    1. You’re finally going to start pretending you’re a woman, eunuch?
      Or are you just going to keep pretending you’re a man?

      1. And you accuse me of never making an argument……..the depth your arguments are ONLY limited to the phrase ‘blah blah Eunuch’. You don’t even have two brain cells to rub together you blithering twat. Fuck off.

  2. Now you’ve done it Jacob.

  3. L’etat, c’est Le Donald.

  4. Is it possible for Americans to argue about politics and policy without accusing each other of betraying the country?

    Sure. I just hope you’re good with people killing each other instead.

  5. I mean, the DNC worked with foreign operatives to make a dossier that would give a friendly administration an excuse to spy on Trump during his campaign, and have since done its best to negate the lawfully elected president via any way possible, both legal and illegal.

    I’m not saying it matches the legal definition of treason, I’m just saying Trump has a better case than what’s being said in this article.

    1. Crazy talk

      1. Let’s not forget they also outsourced all their IT to Paki Intel agents, and blame Trump and Russia for the lapse

        Oh, and this is the crowd that sold multiple warhead reentry guidance tech to China for campaign cash

        1. And who are currently plugging a former VP for President. A former VP whose cokehead kid’s “investment firm” took millions of dollars in payments from the Chinese and Ukrainian government, while his dad negotiating with those governments supposedly on behalf of this nation’s interests. A crowd whose last presidential candidate laundered bribes from corporations and foreign governments through her “charity” to fund her political campaign and the campaigns of Democrats.

          Yeah…I think Trump has a pretty solid point.

          1. I really hope if Trump wins 2020 he just starts investigating everything. Starts flipping rocks to see what slimy politician is slithering underneath.

            1. I’m entirely on board with that. Commies like purges…it’s time they were on the receiving end of one in D.C. (and elsewhere).

              If there’s one area where I’m disappointed with Trump, it’s the lack of investigations and prosecutions of the previous administration for all their fuckery. But the Mueller witch hunt hindered that and he has an election next year, so he can’t act too insane.

              That said, I have a feeling if he wins, the fucking hammer is coming down on a lot of people who thought they could try and hijack the government from the voters.

              1. And when that happens, anticipate Sullum writing a piece about how socialists aren’t so bad, and that Karl Marx guy had some super good ideas we should totally consider.

            2. The nice thing about Trump is considering how poorly the GOP establishment has treated him, he owes them shit. So he can burn a lot of RINOs in the process too. Which would be delightful.

              Seriously, they need to purge the deep staters from the DOJ. And then the gloves really have to come off. I hope they make it really ugly too. Traitors must burn.

        2. They also put the email of the Secretary of State open to the internet, had the OPM records of every federal employee “stolen” by the Chinese, and had a Chinese spy on the payroll of the ranking Democrat on the Select Committee on Intelligence.

          But Trump might have once talked to a Russian, though it’s unclear who that would have been.

          Both Sides!

    2. “During the Republican primaries, a research firm called Fusion GPS was hired by The Washington Free Beacon, a conservative website, to unearth potentially damaging information about Mr. Trump. The Free Beacon — which was funded by a major donor supporting Mr. Trump’s rival for the party’s nomination, Senator Marco Rubio of Florida — told Fusion GPS to stop doing research on Mr. Trump in May 2016, as Mr. Trump was clinching the Republican nomination.

      After Mr. Trump secured the nomination, Fusion GPS was hired on behalf of Mrs. Clinton’s campaign and the D.N.C. by their law firm, Perkins Coie, to compile research about Mr. Trump, his businesses and associates — including possible connections with Russia. It was at that point that Fusion GPS hired Mr. Steele, who has deep sourcing in Russia, to gather information.”

      Special counsel Robert Mueller grappled with this question (of using opposition research from foreigners) as part of his investigation of the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting in which Donald Trump Jr. and other members of the Trump campaign met with a Russian national who’d promised to give them “dirt” on Hillary Clinton as part of Moscow’s effort to support Trump’s candidacy.

  6. >>>Hence Trump is equating attacks on him with attacks on the country.

    a. never use hence
    b. possible T is equating attacks on *the Office* w/attacks on the country?

    1. The whole Mueller investigation was an attack on the country. If the deep state can get away with doing this to a sitting president. Then no one is safe.

  7. Cluestick for Jacob: No one cares.

    People who support Trump don’t care what excesses he makes, they will defend it. People on the other side are too busy using their own slander. And there’s no one in between.

    1. Everyone on team red defends everything that team red does and bemoans everything that team blue does. Reverse the colors… and the statement is equally true.

      1. Wrong.

        We have 1 team of occasional fcvkups and a huge blunder (Iraq), and another team of pure evil pledged to destroy all that is good and holy.

        The first team gets criticized occasionally. It seems their biggest fault is too often adopting the Evil team’s premises and watered down positions.

        1. “…another team of pure evil pledged to destroy all that is good and holy.”

          pants-shit much?

          1. No Eric, he isn’t. Your progressive allies ARE pure evil. Their rule will equate to a quick trip to a Venezuelan style socialist system and the end of this country.

            The GOP establishment are shitbags, but they’re not anything like that.

        2. another team of pure evil pledged to destroy all that is good and holy.

          That’s when you know you’ve drunk the Team Koolaid: when your description of the other team is nothing more than a caricature.


          1. It’s like listening to Red-Sox and Yankee fans argue about the virtues of their team and the evil of the other. Most of us simply root for a meteorite.

          2. We’ll, considering team blue is openly running socialist now… Including a guy who honeymooned in the old USSR…. I would say the team reds claims are closer to reality then team blues.

            1. Indeed. But worthless assholes like Pedo Jeffy are somewhat in the tank for that, or at least useless idiots for them.

  8. a. never use hence
    I’m trying to think of a use of “hence” that isn’t in something old that doesn’t seem awkward.
    Seems like good style advice.

    I’m not sure Trump is doing anything but saying things to annoy people. Either that or he doesn’t know what “treason” means. But I seriously doubt he actually believes that the people he targets could actually be charged and convicted of treason.

    1. “hence” is just so National Review. i also seriously doubt those things.

  9. “Trump likewise has called former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein’s suggestion that Justice Department officials record their conversations with him after he fired FBI Director James Comey “illegal and treasonous.””

    He isn’t wrong on that.

    “The Mueller investigation itself was a “Phony & Treasonous Hoax” involving “treasonous acts,” according to the president.”

    Well, it did allow foreign nationals to influence it very heavily…which I’ve been assured is very, very traitorous behavior.

    “Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t recall Barack Obama or George W. Bush using that sort of rhetoric when people said they should be impeached.”

    Who, precisely, called for Obama’s impeachment?

    And Bush was a useless pussy and big statist who conservatives grew to loathe.

    1. There were several Congressmen that called for impeaching Obama. They were all mostly low-level partisan hacks, but they did exist.

      Trump himself argued that Obama wasn’t a legitimate President to begin with, based on the whole “birther” thing. Maybe not technically a call for impeachment, but certainly similar with respect to the point of the article.

      1. Well,….

        Turns out, they were right.

        Obama was much, much worse than Nixon. We just didn’t know in time

        1. “Obama was much, much worse than Nixon. We just didn’t know in time”
          NashTiger, you need help quick. You are completely off your rocker. Insane!

          1. Tricky Dick never murdered an American citizen without so much as an indictment, let alone a conviction for a capital crime. Obama not only did that, he also blew away a teenager and a number of bystanders, while pretending that “due process” consisted of a couple of government shysters jawboning for an hour or so over whether they could get away with it.


        2. Kind of hard to compare/differentiate the two when both basically sucked.

      2. I didn’t notice any articles drawn up.

  10. Come on.

    Trump’s a jerk but the other side has been beyond obscene. They conducted an open ended hit job/investigation on the President and are on a constant crusade to impeach him/stage a coup.

    Trump has been restrained. Just go back and read the comments by his “critics.” They are beyond disgusting.

    1. If you look at it as a tit for tat fight, then sure, that’s how you play that game. But Trump feeds his opposition with the things he says and he knows it. Maybe it’s an effective strategy for him. He does get them to beclown themselves rather frequently. But I’d be a lot happier with a calmer and less combative political climate. If anything Trump’s antics help make the more radical leftists more prominent and influential. Which might collapse the Dem party, but I wouldn’t count on that and those people shouldn’t be anywhere near power. We are going to have a D president again some day. We need that party not to be completely insane and destructive.

      1. “If anything Trump’s antics help make the more radical leftists more prominent and influential.”

        Feature not a bug

      2. “We need that party not to be completely insane and destructive.”

        That ship sailed with Obama’s 2nd term.
        Stop being a pussy, zeb.

        1. *yawn. Another vapid comment by Nardz/shithead.

          1. Idiot, I don’t use or need socks like you do. I don’t back down and don’t need anyone to speak for me.

            When have I ever done otherwise? And why would i bother? You’re a delusional dullard with a fraction of my intelligence, who would undoubtedly cower before were you to ever encounter me in person. Clearly, no clever tricks required to slap you down.

            Now, begone you silly bitch.

    2. Translation: It’s okay because the other side is worse.

  11. “Trump likewise has called former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein’s suggestion that Justice Department officials record their conversations with him after he fired FBI Director James Comey “illegal and treasonous.””

    He isn’t wrong on that.

    It may be illegal (I don’t know), but I’m not seeing how it’s treasonous. Treason is crime against the state, not misbehavior within the government. Can you explain how you come to that conclusion?

    1. What the hell? Does Reply just not work on the last comment? Or am I typing in the wrong box?

      1. You’re typing in the wrong box.

        1. That’s what she said.

  12. Maybe he should open a multi-year multi-million-dollar investigation, with a special prosecutor, to support his accusations of treason. And if they’re not exonerated, put them up against the wall.

  13. “When everyone’s a traitor, no one is a traitor, because the word loses all meaning. Tossing it around so casually is poisonous to rational debate”

    Rational Debate and politics in the same thread. hahahahaha

    1. Democrats casually engage in treason.

  14. “Is it possible for Americans to argue about politics and policy without accusing each other of betraying the country?”

    In theory, yes. In reality, don’t count on it! Demagogues, no matter the “side,” are not, by nature, given to engaging in either rational or polite debate. And such demagogues make for much better media headlines. Among private people, of course, it happens all the time. But that won’t sell advertising space.

  15. he obstructed justice when he tried to stop, limit, and control the Mueller investigation

    Narrator: But he didn’t. Even Mueller had to admit that.

    1. Nor did Mueller find anything which could be called “collusion”, even granting the loose interpretation of that word.

  16. Moe facing Curly: “Stick out your right hand.
    Curly sticks out his right hand opposite of Moe’s right hand.
    Moe says to Larry facing opposite of Moe and Curly: “Stick out your right hand.”
    Larry sticks out his right hand facing neither Moe or Curly’s right hand.
    Moe slaps Larry.
    That’s how I feel about the democrats and the republicans.

  17. One must address the substantive claims of treason.

    D: Russian collusion, proven 100% false, would only implicate the current president and not the party or his supporters
    R: intentional mass migration designed to dilute votes, shift power to D states, and replace the country demographically, currently happening in reality but no proof of intentional conspiracy, implicates overwhelming majority of the party and many of its voters

    Go ahead and pretend the two are the same.

    1. “Russian collusion, proven 100% false”

      You should read the Mueller report, you half-educated bigot. If necessarily, travel from your deplorable backwater to the nearest civilized, educated town and ask someone there to read it to you.

      Carry on, clinger.

      1. Because I know you are dishonest, and can’t make a real argument, this is futile. The Mueller report clearly stated that no evidence could be found that connected Trump to any collusion/conspiring with the Russians. He stated that again yesterday, multiple times in his testimony. Get that, no evidence. He even states that obstruction would be difficult to prove since their is no evidence of an underlying crime, while stating that it could still be tried. Once again the Mueller report and his testimony both state that no evidence exists, and he cleared Trump of any collusion or conspiring with the Russians.

        1. Trump didn’t need to do anything personally — Mueller documented over 100 contacts between the Trump campaign and Russian agents. It’s splitting hairs to suggest that there was no “collusion” because Trump himself might not have been personally involved. How do you think campaigns work?

          The bigger issue that Mueller understood and underscored was Russian interference, which Republicans seem to think was perfectly OK so long as their guy won. There is a disturbingly immoral ends-justify-the-means quality to the cynicism of Republicans who ignore or tolerate Trump’s incompetence, lawlessness, and immorality because they can get conservative wing-nuts appointed to the courts.

          1. The only Russian interference ever unearthed was completely unrelated to the Trump campaign. And if there was evidence of Trump campaign staff conspiring with the Russians, why were no charges of that nature ever brought against anyone?

            Because it didn’t exist. Nice try though. Thanks for playing.

          2. The report cleared the Trump campaign itself. Of the 100 contacts, the vast majority were normal business or work contacts. Keep grasping at straws. The report cleared Trump and his campaign on any charge of colluding or conspiracy with the Russian agents.

          3. Please provide evidence the Republicans were okay with Russian interference.

      2. “You should read the Mueller report”

        I would suggest you read it, but you’re too stupid to comprehend it. Even if your literacy was sufficient to read it in the first place.

    2. If Democrats wanted to use immigrants to increase their political power, they would move them to swing states and red states.

      1. Why make the replacement more visible than need be? It makes the most sense to pad the EC and Congress in hard blue states that don’t have ideological diversity.

        1. As we saw, winning a rout in California did not net Hillary any extra electoral votes.

          There are not red states and blue states. There are rich, prosperous blue cities and poor, ignorant red rural areas.

          Curiously it’s the people living in the 95% white ignorant rural areas up north that seem most hysterical about the brown menace.

          1. There are corrupt bankrupt blue cities, and efficiently run, fiscally responsible red cities.


  18. Ahh yes, both sides, what was all this Mueller stuff about anyway?

    In “The New Right” Michael Malice does a great job of summarizing The Cathedral, which is the left’s takeover of academics, the media, and politics, and destroy anyone not fighting for “fairness” (Not his original idea but I insist on mentioning it until Reason reviews his book)

    I used to think Reason was outside of The Cathedral, but Reason’s failure to recognize this leftist movement for what it is makes me question their motives.

    1. Which opposite of fairness do you think is a better idea?

      1. Freedom

  19. “All this talk of treason is about as productive as Trump’s response to the charge that he’s racist.”

    Pres. Trump is a racist. Every Trump supporter either embraces or appeases bigotry.

    Those who do not acknowledge those points are unlikely to be effective participants in America’s political debates in a few years.

    1. “Every Trump supporter either embraces or appeases bigotry.”

      You’re an idiot.

      1. Not a cogent or substantive response. Here’s some morning reading:

        1. Vox? Uh huh……

          So what’s it like being a piece of shit commie slave anyway?

  20. How bout we all get together and agree both parties are treasonous parasitic bottom feeders that have long usurped the great constitution of our once grand Republic.

    1. The difference is that while the GOP establishment leaders and most legislators are just awful, the voter base are largely decent people who just want to live their lives in peace and be left alone.

      Democrat party members are progressive totalitarians who seek to force their Marxist slavery on everyone.

      There is zero equivalence.

  21. No… we can not discuss politics without it getting bloody. When the very fundamental premise of the discussion is “Do I get to enslave you, or do you get to enslave me?” then you are bound to have bloodshed. There is no way out. When a fundamental philosophical pillar of one side of the debate is logically and completely antithetical to the very black-letter text of the documents that created the laws of this nation, then that party is, by definition, acting against the nation and state. There is no way around it. The individual policies they may ascribe to may be similar to the same ends as others, but the motivation underlying their desire for said outcome puts them at odds with everyone else who believes in things like the Constitution, limited government, natural rights, etc.

  22. Really?

    Reason is gonna “Both Sides!” calling people racist in politics?

    1. I sure miss Agile Cyborg.

      1. You said it brother.

  23. Disgusting that phony libertarians like Jacob can’t even see a COUP ATTEMPT as an assault on liberty. If Obama-Hillary had succeeded in their attempt to use their elaborately concocted Russia-collusion hoax to sway the election, as they first tried to do, or next to overturn the electoral will of the people, as they are still trying to do, there obviously would never be another real election in America.

    They DID succeed in turning our CIA-DOJ-FBI into the KGB and that KGB would only have gotten better at destroying domestic opposition going forward. But even the end of America is invisible to Jacob. He sees the attempted coup as only an attack on Trump, not as the disenfranchisement of the entire electoral majority of the country that it obviously is, because HE didn’t vote for Trump and OrangeManBad.

    Dude you are morally dead. You are a stinking corpse.

  24. Except, Jacob, he’s kinda right about the banana republic Mueller investigation and more on the mark about those four illiberal asshats being snivelling commies.

    Have you seen their actions and tweets? Not treasonous, but one can conclude anti-American. And racist.

    Trump didn’t ‘make them do it’. He just exposed them for what they are.

  25. “Is it possible for Americans to argue about politics and policy without accusing each other of betraying the country?”

    Possible? Yes. Normal? No. We are emerging from a fairly brief period during which the Political Left had a lock on the terms of debate. They have been slowly losing that for a while now, and the level of acrimony is returning to Human Normal.

    It’s like the myth off the White Christmas; during the decade in which Charles Dickens grew up, it snowed at Christmas for eight of the ten years. So, Dickens considered snow at Christmas to be normal. Dickens’ A CHRISTMAS CHAROL has had a HUGE effect on what is considered a ‘Normal’ Christmas in the English speaking West, although White Christmases in England have been rare for a generation.

    We think of the conditions in which we grew up as ‘normal’, but often they are not.

    1. Well certainly progressives have no place accusing anyone of treason, or even being unpatriotic. A progressive is only unpatriotic on it’s best day, and more frequently treasonous. It’s their way. They are marxists, and counter tribalist. They hate America, and every principle it was founded upon. That is why they seek to destroy it and debauch this country as much as they can.

      They have to go, or America will not survive in anything resembling it’s present form.

  26. >Is it possible for Americans to argue about politics and policy without accusing each other of betraying the country?

    It would be if we didn’t have a political party which actively rewards treason.

  27. “Is it possible for Americans to argue about politics and policy without accusing each other of betraying the country?” Possible in theory, sure. In practice… well, here’s something from a different President Trum*:

  28. For anyone who thinks hyperbolic charges of treason etc are new and unique to Trump, please read about the Jefferson-Adams feud, or Henry-Maddison/Monroe/Jeffeeson feuds during the later 18th century. Or the Jacksonian age. Or the reconstruction era. Or the 1960s and 1970s. Or FDR (favorite tactic of his, study how he blackballed Lindbergh, even after he renounced his support of Germany after Pearl Harbor).

    1. Or Woodrow Wilson who actually codified and enforced laws aimed at labeling political opposition as seditious.

  29. Well, bitching about Trump may not be treason… But a good grip of Democrats are treasonous IMO.

    They are intentionally subverting the US government, trying to destroy the constitution, violating US laws intentionally when it suits them, etc. They also hate everything that the USA has always stood for.

    DT is the one eyed man in the land of the blind… He’s faaaaaar from perfect. But he isn’t intentionally trying to destroy the nation. The leftists are. So do with that what you will…

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