Settle down, Beavis. This guy too:
If this isn't treasonous, I'm not sure what is. https://t.co/QrBaaf4psM
— Seth Moulton (@sethmoulton) July 11, 2017
Treason requires not just aid and comfort to the enemy but, per Article III, Section 3, “adhering” to them. A country with whom we maintain normal diplomatic relations, however strained, presumably wouldn’t even qualify as an “enemy.” And if it did, I’m skeptical that Don Jr’s self-interested fishing expedition for dirt on Clinton would rise to the level of “adherence” just because he was sleazy enough to accept help from them. (Evidence of a quid pro quo would complicate things.) The legal bar for treason is high for good reason, as it’s a crime unscrupulous leaders might otherwise exploit to persecute their political enemies. And it tells you a lot about the political instincts of the Clinton campaign that this guy, having just been handed a luscious Russiagate hors d’oeuvre, would find a way to overreach anyway.
Now, if it’s criminal conspiracy he has in mind rather than outright treason, then he’s on firmer ground.
“Absolutely” [former Clinton White House lawyer Jeffrey] Jacobovitz replied when asked if these emails firm up evidence Trump Jr. had intent to commit a crime by conspiring with the Russians. “You may have crossed the line on conspiracy to commit election fraud or conspiracy to obtain information from a foreign adversary,” he said. “You cannot benefit from a foreign adversary in this kind of scenario.”…
The fact that Trump Jr. took this meeting while being told what the Russians were up to is as clear of intent as you can get, Jacobovitz said.
“If he received an email in advance saying ‘This is coming from the Russian government,’ he’s certainly knowledgeable about where the information is coming from,” Jacobovitz said. “And he attempts to attend a meeting with the hope and intent to obtain inside dirt on Hillary Clinton. That would go a long way in trying to determine whether it’s conspiracy. … It’s not as if he walks into the meeting and he’s surprised by what he’s hearing.”
Per Axios, which has seemed well sourced within the White House this year, Trump’s team knows the Don Jr story is terrible news and isn’t sure how to spin it. Attack Clinton for colluding with Ukraine for dirt on Trump? Send Don Jr on a friendly media tour to keep Trump’s base in the fold? (He’ll be on Hannity’s show tonight, unsurprisingly.) Team Trump’s Russiagate spin until recently was straightforward: “There’s no evidence of collusion.” We’re about to enter a new phase now: “There’s no evidence of collusion by the president” and “Collusion’s not illegal, anyway,” even though, per the excerpt above, that may not be true. Which phase comes after that? “The president can pardon anyone he wants”?
By the way, here’s what Kaine’s running mate was doing today while he was at the Capitol commenting on possible treason by the president’s inner circle:
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) July 11, 2017
More seriously, what’s left of Trump’s hoped-for Russia detente now? Assume Don Jr and everyone else connected to the Russia probe skates with no charges. The cloud of suspicion is still thick enough that any significant White House outreach to Moscow will be slammed as “proof” that there really was collusion, just not so obviously that Bob Mueller could assemble a federal case against it. The Don Jr saga of the past three days may have already sealed the fate in the House of the Russia sanctions bill that just passed the Senate, 97-2. The White House has been leaning on Paul Ryan not to bring that to the floor (or at least to carve out some leeway for the president in granting waivers from the sanctions) but Ryan may feel now that he has no choice in order to show that the party isn’t soft on Russia, whatever the First Family’s stance may be. The legacy of Russiagate will probably have less to do with convictions than with sustained U.S./Russia tensions throughout Trump’s term.
Exit question: When Don Jr learned that the Russian government wanted to “help” the campaign, why didn’t he call the FBI?