Treasonous? Who?

By Susan Estrich

March 28, 2019 6 min read



Treasonous? Who?

The Mueller report understandably brought great joy to the president.

The report found no actual collusion between Trump and his aides and the Russian government.

I guess that's something to celebrate — no treason on the Trump side. Because collusion might well meet the constitutional requirements of treason, whereas broadsides like the president's — his accusing all of his critics in Congress and the media of treasonous activity — are purely for show, legally speaking.

And when it came to the question of whether the president committed obstruction of justice in firing FBI Director James Comey, even Robert Muller, known for being the tough guy, blinked. He did not exonerate Trump on those charges. He left it to the attorney general, surely knowing what the decision would be.

So after years of castigating Mueller publicly and privately, after all the threats and the bullying and the stonewalling and the Rudy Giuliani of it all, Trump is now embracing those very witch hunters as the ultimate arbiters of his innocence.

I'm not exactly sure what he is innocent of.

The fact that there was no collusion doesn't mean that Trump knew nothing.

The fact that he was exonerated from obstruction by Attorney General Barr makes Barr the target, not Trump or Mueller. Good strategy. It proves nothing.

So do the Democrats just walk away?

The country is more liberal that it has ever been. Democrats need to offer people more than their outrage against Trump. Sadly, after a time, everything becomes so routinely outrageous that I skip half the tweets.

"Unnamed Democrat" is the strongest candidate against Trump. The ones who are actually running do less well. The likelihood that Bernie Sanders will play a very significant role in the nomination process, only to find other Democrats and the media no longer giving him a honeymoon, raises pretty ugly possibilities for a summer convention.

The worst thing the Democrats can do is fritter away the next Congress in endless investigations that allow Trump to play himself as the victim of a Congress who cares more about him than it does about you.

The second worst thing they can do is alienate half the Party — either the Bernie half or the Pelosi/Schumer/Biden half — such that whoever wins the nominations is the last choice of a great many of the people at the convention. This is not a good way to go into the fall against a guy like Trump.

But it's hard to resist.

When I was AOC's age — actually, younger — I took 44 platform minority reports to the 1980 Democratic National Convention, not exactly a unity move. But when you believe fervently that the Party needs to change, when you're young enough to believe that confrontation is the answer, and that if Trump can do it, so can a 77-year-old Jewish socialist, it's hard to show any restraint at all.

Unless you're dead set on winning.

That is the real generational divide in the Democratic Party. I had done about six presidential campaigns before my old friend Bill Clinton finally broke the drought. The younger generation does not understand what a miracle Barack Obama's victory was. To attack him, as one of the newest members of Congress's AOC wing has done, is downright offensive. The man was a political genius. His critic is not.

The longer the Democrats drag things out, the worse it could hurt the Party.

But it's hard to resist. I was about to turn to music when I heard the president's quote on Tuesday about the "evil" people who have done "treasonous" things. So sick was I of the Republican gloating and the Democrats' determination to find some issue to hold onto. One thing the Founding Fathers were very aware of was their vulnerability to charges of treason, and they went to the point of spelling out the definition and requirements in the Constitution.

So who was he referring to as treasonous? Adam Kennedy, Trump's deputy director of communications, who sounded like an arrogant young man who simply ignored the president and tanked the Democrats? And there was Kellyanne Conway demanding that one of the most respected Democrats in Congress, Adam Schiff, be booted for insisting that charges be fully investigated.

Who is this little guy reading from the same talking points they send to Sean Hannity, and just ignoring the questions? That would be one of Donald's mini-me's, for sure. No one else can survive?

Nope. Could Trump win again? Absolutely.

And many, many Americans, especially those at the bottom, will suffer. "Meh" — you think it's all meh? Tell that to your constituents, the Americans who need help most and will get the least.

To find out more about Susan Estrich and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at

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Susan Estrich
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