Serious, that we know — but we don’t know how bad it is
You can tell it’s bad just from the shrill and detached from reality messages that Donald Trump and some of his supporters are posting. They are frightened people, lashing out. But not all the critics are calm and sticking to the facts. Let’s take a brief and partial inventory of what we know and don’t know:
- It’s above all a conflict of interest case, of Donald Trump mixing his businesses and his public life, and of him associating with politically connected individuals and institutions in ways that raise questions.
- It’s NOT a treason case. Under the US Constitution and the meanings of the words at the time it was adopted, treason is either a US citizen making war against the United States or in a time of declared war adhering to and giving material assistance to a declared enemy in that war. The Constitution makes it quite difficult to prove treason in any case.
- Trump notoriously called for the Russians to release damaging information about Hillary Clinton. What he knew at the time and the extent to which his campaign may have coordinated its actions with the Russian government or with Russian individuals remains to be determined.
- If there is a problem with Trump’s relationships with Russia or Russians, there are also questions his dealings with several Middle Eastern countries.
- As probable pressure points prosecutors at both state and federal levels likely have other matters to pursue: fraud, money laundering, campaign law violations, lies to federal investigators and to Congress and obstruction of justice.
- Trump, or if he is replaced Pence, can issue pardons for federal crimes but not for offenses against state laws.
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