Nothing that Donald Trump says or does shocks me anymore, but sometimes he crosses new lines. When such things happen, it’s important that Democrats respond appropriately.
Yesterday, in a Fox News interview, President Trump accused Special Counsel Robert Mueller, and those assisting his investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government, of “treason” and an attempted coup, and threatened a counter-investigation and long prison terms for those who investigated him.
“We can never allow this treasonous — these treasonous acts to happen to another president. This was an attempted takeover of our government, of our country, an illegal takeover,” [Trump] told long-favored Fox interviewer Sean Hannity.
Trump claimed that if Republicans had investigated a Democratic president, the investigators would face life in prison — even though Republicans launched numerous investigations against President Clinton and President Obama and that was considered acceptable:
“You’d have 100 people in jail right now and it would be treason. It would be considered treason and they would be in jail for the rest of their lives. … It would be virtually the maximum sentence that you can find, no matter where you look in whatever legal book.”
Trump then threatened an investigation into those who have investigated him, something that neither President Clinton nor President Obama initiated against government officials who conducted investigations about them:
“We are getting to the bottom of it,” he said. “Hopefully they won’t get away with it.”
Since Trump’s Justice Department is refusing to release the Mueller Report, the public can’t evaluate whether the Mueller investigation produced evidence of possibly illegal or unethical conduct by Donald Trump. So it’s unclear who is getting away with what. At the very least, based on the fact that Trump’s campaign manager, Paul Manafort, and his personal attorney, Michael Cohen, are going to prison for years as a result of the Mueller investigation, it certainly seems that the investigation accomplished something important and was therefore necessary.
Trump’s statements that such an investigation was “treason” and his threats against the investigators are unacceptable in our democracy. He apparently believes he’s above the law, in a way that previous presidents were not. He believes that even investigating him or members of his campaign for possible lawbreaking is off limits, and that if government officials do it, they are committing “treason” and should go to prison.
It is imperative that Democratic leaders respond to Trump’s statements with appropriate condemnation. The condemnation must be swift, forceful, and in the Congressional record.
I would suggest that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi bring to the floor of the House a resolution of censure against President Trump for his recent comments. Anything less is an inadequate response to Trump’s outrageous threats against government officials who have been doing their duty to uphold the laws of this country.
In light of President Trump’s comments, Speaker Pelosi should also begin a House investigation into whether President Trump is instructing the Justice Department to launch retaliatory investigations against anyone who worked for, supported, or defended the Mueller investigation.