On Friday morning, the president of the United States tweeted this.
My Campaign for President was conclusively spied on. Nothing like this has ever happened in American Politics. A really bad situation. TREASON means long jail sentences, and this was TREASON!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 17, 2019
That comes just days after the attorney general announced that he has tasked a U.S. attorney with the job of reviewing the origins of the Trump-Russia investigation conducted initially by the FBI and then turned over to the special counsel. Echoing Trump, Barr recently repeated that, “government power was used to spy on American citizens,” while someone familiar with the review said that at this point, it is not a criminal investigation.
Alarm bells should be going off all across this country. The top law enforcement agency in the country is being investigated by the attorney general because they investigated the president. In the midst of that, the president has accused them of treason, threatening extended jail time.
Treason is the only crime defined in our Constitution. Article III Section 3 states: “Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying war against them, or in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort.” Punishable by death, it is perhaps the most serious crime someone can commit. As Jeffrey Toobin suggests, for the president to throw that one around is a “grotesque abuse of power.”
Toobin hits Trump for 'grotesque abuse of power' after 'TREASON' tweet pic.twitter.com/cKGzFL22ZL
— TPM Livewire (@TPMLiveWire) May 17, 2019
But even more alarming is that the president accused the FBI of treason in the midst of the attorney general’s review of their actions, which he could very well turn into a criminal investigation. Trump just made it obvious that he wants Barr to do just that. In anticipation of the attorney general complying with his wishes, the president has made himself both judge and jury, finding the FBI guilty and sentencing the investigators to jail.
How far is the attorney general willing to go in carrying out the wishes of the president? Even Fox News reporter Chris Wallace acknowledged that Trump has finally found an attorney general who will protect his interests.
What we are witnessing is the slow boil that eventually kills democracy. What is most alarming is that we’ve grown so immune to this president’s outrageous behavior that hardly anyone noticed what just happened.