Saturday, July 21, 2018

Olympus has fallen

Olympus has fallen is a 2013 action movie in which the White House is attacked by terrorists and the President and members of his staff are taken hostage.

What do the terrorists want? Withdrawal of US forces from the Korean peninsula. Sound familiar?

The difference is that the 2013 movie president did not cave to those demands. The 2018 “real” president did, cancelling military exercises with our South Korean ally following the wishes of an adversarial Russian dictator.

That Russian dictator, Vladimir Putin, is suspected to “have something” on our real-life president, Donald Trump. That is the only hypothesis that explains why Trump is so publicly deferential to Putin. (One version of that hypothesis is that Trump is financially indebted to Russian oligarchs.) Why else would he stand on stage at Helsinki and praise Putin while simultaneously trashing our own intelligence and law enforcement agencies? Why else would he invite Putin, the guy who ordered the hacking and social media attack on our 2016 election, to Washington in advance of our 2018 election?

Wait, wait. He did what? Is that not a betrayal? Does that not betray our constitution and violate his oath of office? Is it not treason? AZBlueMeanie at Blog for Arizona explores those questions in a lawyerly analysis, Guess who’s coming to dinner. Concluding snippets follow.

… Russian asset Donald Trump has invited Vladimir Putin, war criminal, the man who ordered the “Gerasimov ” attacks against the United States in 2016 to a state visit in Washington, D.C., this fall, just before the midterm elections. …

President Donald Trump asked his national security adviser to invite Russian President Vladimir Putin to Washington this fall, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Thursday afternoon.

The statement comes after Trump teased a second meeting with Putin on Twitter earlier in the day. Sanders says the president tasked National Security Adviser John Bolton with extending an invitation to the Russian leader.

This is the equivalent of President Roosevelt inviting Emperor Hirohito of Japan to the White House to celebrate the Cherry Blossom Festival after Japan’s secret attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.

[There are] those who say that an act of treason is not possible here because the U.S. is not at war with Russia.

If treason is narrowly limited to wars declared by Congress, then this would be true, since Congress has not declared a war since World War II, despite numerous U.S. military conflicts since then.

The United States and Russia are not currently in a “shooting war,” despite an armed engagement between U.S. forces and Russian led mercenaries in Syria earlier this year. US strike in Syria kills Russian fighters in first such clash (February 2018).

[But] surely the meaning of “war” for purposes of treason must adapt to the modern methods and tactics of warfare.

In that case, Russia is clearly at war with the United States, whether our compromised commander-in-chief and his collaborators in Congress choose to acknowledge this war, or not.

Depending on the level of evidence of cooperation (“collusion”) between the Trump campaign and Russian state actors developed by the Special Counsel, I would not entirely discount a charge of treason.

Assuming, arguendo, that there was no “collusion” during the campaign, a highly improbable scenario given the degree of publicly reported information to date, Donald Trump’s regular and persistent discounting of the intelligence community’s unanimous conclusion that Vladimir Putin ordered the attack on the U.S. election to aid the election of Donald Trump, after being briefed by the intelligence chiefs with highly classified intelligence, From the Start, Trump Has Muddied a Clear Message: Putin Interfered, puts him squarely in the cross-hairs for a charge of being an accessory after the fact in an obstruction of justice charge:

Accessory After The Fact
Someone who assists another 1) who has committed a felony, 2) after the person has committed the felony, 3) with knowledge that the person committed the felony, and 4) with the intent to help the person avoid arrest or punishment. An accessory after the fact may be held liable for, inter alia, obstruction of justice.

Twelve Russian intelligence officers from the GRU, Russia’s military intelligence agency, have been indicted. Another 13 Russians and three Russian companies, including the Internet Research Agency, have been indicted. Vladimir Putin, who ordered the attack, is currently an unindicted co-conspirator (likely because he is the head of state).

Virtually every time that Donald Trump has publicly cast doubt on whether Russia attacked our election or described the Russia investigation as a “hoax” or “witch hunt” is a separate factual allegation in support of an accessory after the fact obstruction of justice charge.

And if Trump is doing this to protect Putin because he has damaging “kompromat” on him, I would not entirely discount a charge of treason.

Even if this does not meet the specific legal definition of treason under existing court precedents, “If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck — it’s a duck.”

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