Wednesday, September 05, 2018

This isn't resistance, it's treason

Much as I want to see Donald Trump thwarted from advancing his xenophobic, misogynistic and downright dangerous agenda, this is not the way.  An anonymous "senior official" in the administration announced in the New York Times today that he (or she) is part of "the resistance inside the Trump Administration."  I am about as sympathetic an audience for that message as you are likely to find, but I don't buy it.  Love him or loathe him (and make no mistake, I do not love him) Donald Trump is still at the moment the duly elected president of the United States.  There are Constitutional mechanisms to remove him from office: impeachment.  The 25th Amendment.  Or Congress could, you know, start to exercise some oversight.  But a passive-aggressive undermining from inside his own administration is not on that list.  That isn't resistance, it's treason.

If you're going to oppose the President, you need to stand up and be counted.  Show your face.  Resign, or force them to fire you.  But don't subvert the law, and for God's sake don't announce from the cover of journalistic anonymity that you're subverting the law.  That sets a terrible precedent.  The next president to have a "resistance" inside his or her own administration might be someone that you agree with.


coby said...

It is not treason. Words have agreed meanings and treason is about aiding an enemy, not defying your leader. Working to thwart your government (in peacetime) is not betraying your country. Granted, doing it anonymously and covertly is not my definition of integrity, but still, can we all stop yelling treason all the time?

Duplicitous, hypocritical, cowardly, unethical, okay. But it has precisely nothing to do with treason.

This article sums up very well my own opinion of whoever it was that wrote that op-ed: worth reading IMO.

Ron said...

You're right, this doesn't fit the definition of treason given in the Constitution. But the dictionary definition of treason is "the crime of betraying one's country, especially by attempting to kill the sovereign or overthrow the government." I think what the anonymous writer describes -- covertly undermining our democratically elected president -- fits that definition.

Luke said...

I think the word you're looking for is 'sedition'; the following is from 18 U.S. Code § 2384 - Seditious conspiracy:

>>     If two or more persons in any State or Territory, or in any place subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, conspire to overthrow, put down, or to destroy by force the Government of the United States, or to levy war against them, or to oppose by force the authority thereof, or by force to prevent, hinder, or delay the execution of any law of the United States, or by force to seize, take, or possess any property of the United States contrary to the authority thereof, they shall each be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than twenty years, or both.
>> (June 25, 1948, ch. 645, 62 Stat. 808; July 24, 1956, ch. 678, § 1, 70 Stat. 623; Pub. L. 103–322, title XXXIII, § 330016(1)(N), Sept. 13, 1994, 108 Stat. 2148.)

coby said...

"the crime of betraying one's country, especially by attempting to kill the sovereign or overthrow the government."

Sorry, the President is NOT the country, except in the minds of wannabe or real dictators. In the case of this Op-Ed, the author specifically states they think they are working against the leader on behalf of the country. And they are decidedly not trying to overthrow the government or kill the sovereign, they are working to keep the gov't functioning and keep Trump in his job. This is precisely what is incoherent about this course of action.

Same for sedition, there is no attempt to overthrow or destroy, and certainly nothing is being done by force (taking up arms is a pretty far cry from hiding pieces of paper!). Cohn would have had to grab those documents from Trump's hands shouting "over my dead body will you sign that!", not say "Yes, Sir, Mr President, whatever you say." and then sneak it out behind his back.

Sedition or treason I could at least respect.

Luke said...


What revolutionaries in the history of the world have said anything other than, "We're working on behalf of the country!"? The very word 'revolution' originally meant a 'return' or 'roll back'. It's virtually always a fight about what the "legitimate" government is.

IANAL, but I suspect your understanding of "by force" is fatally simplistic. What is surely important is to ensure that civil protests are not considered "by force", so that the First Amendment is not violated. In today's bureaucratic age, there are plenty of phases before guns which are incredibly powerful; manipulating things in paper-land can cause more damage than assassination.

Donald Trump promised to "drain the swamp"; what could be more swamp-like than unelected officials trying to be the ones really running the show?