During a disturbing exchange this afternoon with the press, President Trump appeared to endorse the death penalty for political opponents that he deemed guilty of “treason.”
“Sir, the Constitution says treason is punishable by death,” began a reporter in the Q&A session that followed the President’s remarks on the latest round of relief funding for farmers hurt by his trade wars. “You’ve accused your adversaries of treason. Who are you talking about?”
Given the opportunity, President Trump did not immediately shoot down the possibility of executing the people who led an investigation into his presidential campaign and his administration. Instead, he tacitly endorsed the idea by failing to address it and instead began to list off names of people he thought were guilty of “treason” against him.
“Look at Comey, McCabe, people higher than that. If you look at Strozk, if you look at his lover, Lisa Page, his wonderful lover. They talked openly. They didn’t use their private server because they didn’t want to get caught. So they used the government server. That was not a good move. He talked about the insurance policy just in case crooked Hillary loses. That didn’t work out well for them. So you look at them…Without the ‘treason’ word — they don’t feel they can win, so they’re trying to do the thousand stabs.”
REPORTER: Sir, the constitution says treason is punishable by death. You’ve accused your adversaries of treason. Who specifically are you accusing of treason?
TRUMP: A number of people. If you look at Comey, McCabe, if you look at Strzok, his lover Lisa Page… 😳 pic.twitter.com/6louyWsqaa
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) 23 May 2019
Obsessed with the idea that the Democratic Party and law enforcement agencies were all part of a grand, shadowy conspiracy to stop him from getting elected and permanently resentful of the negative attention that the ensuing media coverage attracted, the President has warmed to the idea that it was not, in fact, him who committed treason.
His refusal to shut down any talk of execution or otherwise punishment for the people who were just doing their jobs and upholding the rule of law marks yet another dangerous step down the ladder of authoritarianism and is setting off alarm bells throughout Washington.
The question put to him was prefaced with the fact that the Constitution says that treason is punishable by death, and without flinching, the President of the United States listed the names of people whose apparent crime was that they had investigated him https://t.co/KYwSIetoww
— Robert Maguire (@RobertMaguire_) May 23, 2019