The word “treason” gets bandied about a lot these days, particularly when referring to the current occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
But after what transpired in Helsinki this weekend, it’s no longer hyperbole.
In what many lawmakers in Washington are labeling “treasonous,” Donald Trump failed to uphold his oath to “protect and defend the Constitution and faithfully execute the office of President of the United States” by siding with Moscow over Russian meddling in the 2016 American presidential election.
At an over two-hour joint press conference with Russian president Vladimir Putin, Trump criticized the American intelligence community that overwhelming confirms Russian interference to get him elected.
“They [American intelligence] said they think it’s Russia; I have President Putin, he just said it’s not Russia. I will say this: I don’t see any reason why it would be. I have great confidence in my intelligence people, but I will tell you that President Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today.”
Predictably, Trump then meandered into a red-herring deflection about Hillary Clinton’s emails and the Democratic National Committee’s email server.
No one other than Trump’s most stubborn supporters are buying it anymore.
Former CIA director, John Brennan, tweeted:
“Donald Trump’s press conference performance in Helsinki rises to & exceeds the threshold of ‘high crimes & misdemeanors.’ It was nothing short of treasonous. Not only were Trump’s comments imbecilic, he is wholly in the pocket of Putin.”
Calling out fellow Republicans, Brennan added:
“Republican Patriots: Where are you???”
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) stated:
“Today’s press conference in Helsinki was one of the most disgraceful performances by an American president in memory. The damage inflicted by President Trump’s naivety, egotism, false equivalence, and sympathy for autocrats is difficult to calculate. But it is clear that the summit in Helsinki was a tragic mistake.”
“Not only did President Trump fail to speak the truth about an adversary; but speaking for America to the world, our president failed to defend all that makes us who we are – a republic of free people dedicated to the cause of liberty at home and abroad.”
Even House Speaker Paul Ryan, not known to openly condemn the president as often as he should, said:
“The president must appreciate that Russia is not our ally. There is no moral equivalence between the United States and Russia, which remains hostile to our most basic values and ideals. The United States must be focused on holding Russia accountable and putting an end to its vile attacks on democracy.”
Senate Minority Leader, Charles Schmer (D-NY), concurred:
“In the entire history of our country, Americans have never seen a president of the United States support an American adversary the way President Trump has supported President Putin. For the president of the United States to side with President Putin against American law enforcement, American defense officials, and American intelligence agencies is thoughtless, dangerous, and weak. The president is putting himself over our country.”
Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) echoed his colleagues’ sentiments, tweeting:
“I never thought I would see the day when our American President would stand on the stage with the Russian President and place blame on the United States for Russian aggression. This is shameful.”
And from Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.):
“This is bizarre and flat-out wrong. The United States is not to blame. America wants a good relationship with the Russian people but Vladimir Putin and his thugs are responsible for Soviet-style aggression. When the President plays these moral equivalence games, he gives Putin a propaganda win he desperately needs.”
But lawmakers and intelligence officials are not the only ones accusing Trump of being weak in front of Vladimir Putin. Even members of Trump’s own staff thought that as well.
The Daily Beast quotes a Trump political appointee:
“I honestly had little to no good expectations for this. [The event] went about as well as I expected. Trump looked incredibly weak up there. Putin looks like a champion. I’d like to say I’m shocked but this is the world in which we live now.”
Yes, even Fox News turned on the president.
During an interview, with host Neil Cavuto, Former Dep. Asst. Attorney General Tom Dupree, said on Fox Business:
“All well and good for the president to talk about the Strzok and server and Hillary Clinton and all of that. But this wasn’t the time and the place this is the time and place for the president to look Putin squarely in the eye and said you will be punished for what you did in 2016, don’t ever think about doing that again.”
“But he didn’t. That made it disgusting. That made his performance disgusting. Only way I feel. Not a right or left thing to me. It is wrong. U.S. President foreign soil talking to our biggest enemy or adversary or competitor, I don’t know how we define them away, essentially letting the guy get away with this, not even, offering a mild, a mild criticism. That sets us back a lot.”
Fox and Friends Weekend host Abby Huntsman tweeted:
“No negotiation is worth throwing your own people and country under the bus.”
For Trump, apparently it’s “Russia first.”
Now might be a good time for the Republican majority to join with the Democrats calling for Trump’s impeachment.
The question is, four months before mid-term elections, will they?
Image credit: The New Yorker