Maybe he already has met the whistleblower! Well, probably not, considering the second- and third-hand nature of the information in the whistleblower complaint, but Donald Trump argues that he should get the chance before the House goes down Impeachment Road. Trump made the constitutional argument on Twitter last night, and continued in a similar vein this morning.
In another constitutional argument, he also wants Adam Schiff interrogated and arrested for “Treason.” And that is called overplaying your hand, to put it mildly:
Trump escalated to asking for Schiff’s arrest this morning:
This is as stupid as Schiff’s parody last week. It’s incredible that we have to explain this to adults, but what Trump describes here bears absolutely no resemblance to treason — not even in a moral sense, let alone the legal sense over which Trump rants. Article III Section 3 of the Constitution establishes the only legal definition of treason:
Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court.
In other words, it requires a declaration of war (which we haven’t had since World War II) and explicit aid to the enemy named by it. Bzzzzt! Thank you for playing! Nor is what Schiff did treason in a moral sense; he’s attacking Trump, not the United States of America. We do not have lese majeste laws in the US; one is allowed to criticize the president, even unfairly, even dishonestly, without it being a case of treason. Schiff may be lying, he may be smearing Trump, and he may be abusing his position as House Intel chair, but those are all things that fall a very, very long way short from treason. Or even fraud, although at least that one’s arguably in the ballpark in the moral sense, if not legal.
If Barack Obama had accused Republicans pushing the birther conspiracy theory of treason and called for their arrest, his critics would have screamed for Obama’s impeachment. If Trump wants to make a case that Schiff’s dishonest about him abusing his office, then just stick to that. It would be a lot easier to defend Trump against allegations of abusing the powers of his office if Trump wasn’t going all Red Queen in demanding Schiff’s arrest for a non-existent crime. Just sayin’.
Anyway, the whistleblower does plan to meet with someone, but it’s not Trump:
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam B. Schiff said Sunday that his panel has reached an agreement to secure testimony from the anonymous whistleblower whose detailed complaint launched an impeachment investigation into President Trump.
The announcement from Schiff came on the same day that Tom Bossert, a former Trump homeland security adviser, delivered a rebuke of the president, saying in an interview on ABC’s “This Week” that he was “deeply disturbed” by the implications of Trump’s recently reported actions.
It’s not quite clear just how solid this agreement is. His attorney Mark Zaid was more ambiguous about a specific date for this meeting, and even whether it had been fully nailed down:
One of the whistleblower’s attorneys, Mark Zaid, said in a statement that bipartisan negotiations in both chambers are ongoing “and we understand and agree that protecting the whistleblower’s identity is paramount.” He added that no date or time for the testimony has been set.
Eventually the meeting will take place, but almost surely in closed session. Unfortunately for Trump, it’s not a judicial process that would put his liberty or property at risk, so the House does not have to allow him to personally face his accuser. Fortunately for Trump, a number of Republicans on the committee will act as his proxies in that regard, testing the veracity of the hearsay in the complaint. That might be enough … if Trump doesn’t lose his mind and call for the arrests of opposition lawmakers for the crime of being politicians. Maybe someone should take his phone away for the next few weeks.