NBC News justice correspondent Pete Williams today said that President Donald Trump is seriously misusing the word “treason” in decrying officials involved in the Russia investigation.
Williams wrote a piece for NBCNews.com today headlined “Trump doesn’t seem to understand what ‘treason’ means” and saying, “It doesn’t mean being disloyal to the president. And it certainly would not apply to any actions against a private citizen, which Donald Trump was as a candidate for president.”
“Enemy” means a country or an entity that has declared war or is in a state of open war against the US. “Aid and comfort” must be something material, not words of encouragement.
That “enemy” element of treason is very significant. For example, Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, executed in 1953 after they were convicted on espionage charges for passing US atomic bomb secrets to the Soviet Union, could not be charged with treason because the Soviets were not considered enemies.
No one has been convicted of treason in the U.S. for nearly 70 years. The last few cases involved Americans who aided Germany and Japan during World War II.
On MSNBC this morning, Williams said, “With all due respect to the president, he uses this word all the time, and I hope somebody explains to him what it is.”
“It doesn’t apply to political disputes or even somebody trying to undercut a presidential campaign, if indeed that’s what really happened,” he added.
You can watch above, via MSNBC.
[image via screengrab]
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