The White House says President Trump was joking when he said Democrats who chose to avoid applauding positive economic news during the State of the Union were "treasonous."
"You’re up there, you’ve got half the room going totally crazy, wild, they loved everything, they want to do something great for our country," Trump said during a speech Monday in Ohio. [Video] "And you have the other side, even on positive news, really positive news like that, they were like, death. And un-American. Un-American. Somebody said treasonous. Yeah, I guess, why not."
Whether Trump was attempting to entertain the crowd or actually believes Democrats were engaging in treason for remaining quiet is a subjective question people will answer differently, but what can be objectively stated is that the Trump Administration, if not Trump himself, has frequently been accused of committing treason.
Specifically, here are 12 examples:
1. In November, an MSNBC panel accused Trump of committing treason for allowing "double agent" Michael Flynn to be part of his administration.
"This does amount to treason," Richard Painter said during a panel on AM Joy. "We cannot tolerate it. We’ve got to sort this out fast."
2. Former White House ethics lawyer and MSNBC regular guest, Richard Painter, said the Trump Jr. meeting was "very close" to treason if not actually outright treason.
"And what is treason would be assisting Russia in an attack on the United States," Painter told MSNBC's Katy Tur. [Video] "Russia did conduct an attack on the United States in 2016 through computer hacking to disrupt our democratic election process just as they did in France a few weeks ago. And anyone who assisted in that or wanted to help the Russians disseminate that information, even for their own partisan political ends, engaged in treasonous conduct in assisting in an attack on the United States.""All I’m saying is the facts reported in The New York Times article come very close if not is crossing the line with respect to treason if those facts are true," he added.
3. In November, Rep. Jim Himes (D-Conn.) responded to reports that the Clinton campaign shopped for dirt on Trump from Russia via Fusion GPS, calling it "ludicrous" to liken the story to the "potential treason" the Trump campaign allegedly committed through it's "collusion" with Russian. [Video]
4. In November, MSNBC legal analyst Paul Butler commented on Jeff Sessions repeatedly saying he "didn't recall" while testifying on Russia and the Trump transition. Butler said if Trump had instructed him to "thwart" the investigation, it would be "close" to treason.
"I haven’t talked about treason before but we’re getting close to that,” Butler said. [Video]
5. CNN's Bakari Sellers, commenting in July on Donald Trump Jr. accepting a meeting with a Russian lawyer under the pretense he would receive dirt on Clinton, said the news is evidence of "borderline treason."
"What if Barack Obama, you know, did this or what if Hillary Clinton did this, you know?" Seller asked during a panel on State of the Union. "Ken Cuccinelli would be red in the face and he would be running around with pitch forks in Washington, D.C. But we don’t see that same outrage here because it’s Donald Trump and he’s able to meander his way in and out of lives. And so, I think the Democrats can talk about the 23 million people that are going to get kicked off health care. And we can also say that Donald Trump Jr., what he did was a threat to our democracy and borderline treason.”
6. In July, former Watergate prosecutor, Nick Ackerman, told MSNBC's Chris Matthews that Trump Jr.'s meeting with a Russian lawyer during the 2016 presidential campaign is "outright treason."
“Legally is this a smoking canon. First of all you’ve got violations of the federal campaign laws. They are taking something of value. It’s not just the information this lawyer is conveying. But they are talking about ultra sensitive documents that the Russian government has put together that they are trying to decide how to get to the Trump campaign. Either through Mr. Trump’s secretary or through junior, by bringing in the documents to him. Secondly, there are violations of the Logan Act. They are dealing with a representative of the Russian government and talking about sanctions. And the obvious question comes up, Is there a quid pro quo being suggested here? Third outright treason. No question that what he’s doing is giving aid and comfort to the enemy. If there’s any question that Russia is not our enemy, that is totally absurd."
7. CNN contributor and presidential historian, Douglas Brinkley, said there was a "smell of treason" surrounding the Trump/Russia probe. “Well, you know, a lot of people are afraid to use the ‘t-word,’ treason, but in the end that’s what people are investigating," Brinkley said. "People talk about collusion with Russia — we’re talking about whether people that worked in the Trump campaign who meddled in American elections, and our free and fair elections are the heart and soul of our democracy, and the very fact that on the day that I said that, FBI Director Comey is saying that the President of the United States is under a federal criminal investigation."
"It was stunning news, it remains stunning news," he continued. "And we don’t want to try to act like that is the new normal. If there is ever any evidence that any American citizens are working to undermine the U.S. government or undermine our electoral system, it’s a serious cause. What that is is you are working against America and you are working for somebody who is an adversary of ours like Russia. That’s treason.”
8. Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) said the Trump Jr. meeting with a Russian lawyer was "treason."
"That is potentially a violation of the espionage act, yes, treason, and it is potentially a violation of the prohibitions of defrauding the government through conspiracy, against cyber fraud and abuse," Blumenthal told CNN. [Video] "There are a slew of statutes that may have been violated here."
9. Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.), the former vice presidential candidate, said the Trump Jr. meeting was "potentially treason."
“The investigation, nothing is proven yet," Kaine told CNN. [Video] "We are now beyond obstruction of justice in terms of what’s being investigated. This is moving into perjury, false statements and even potentially treason.”
10. ABC's The View said Trump's firing on then-FBI Director James Comey felt "like a coup" and was "treason."
“It just feels like a coup," Whoopi Goldberg said. "You know, the whole Justice Department — everybody got gutted, all of the things — things got gutted and — and it just yeah, it just feels — and he’s got all of the — it just feels kind of kooky.”
"This is a treason to me," Joy Behar said. "This is un-American, unpatriotic. Americans should be furious. Furious."
11. In December, Newsweek Senior Editor Jonathan Alter said it was "quasi treasonous" the incoming Trump Administration spoke to Russia