Just yesterday, Palmer Report writer and legal expert Bruce C. Cohen laid out the story of Axis Sally, who was convicted of treason simply for doing radio broadcasts which supported and/or aided the Nazis during World War II. It made for a strong argument that Donald Trump could face treason charges based solely on his press conference with Vladimir Putin. Then Sarah Huckabee Sanders stepped to the plate today, and it made me wonder if her words have opened her to criminal charges as well.
First, let’s dispense with the popular yet incorrect belief that treason charges require a declaration of war. If you look at past treason convictions in the United States, it’s clear that the precedent only requires an act of war against the United States, not a declaration of war. If the Russian hacking can be legally defined as an act of cyber war, and if Donald Trump can be criminally tied to that hacking, then it’s very clear based on case law that Trump can be charged with treason. The question is whether he’s the only one.
Donald Trump committed another act of verbal treason today by insisting during a press conference that Russia is no longer trying to attack U.S. elections, even after the U.S. intel community has unanimously stated that Russia is still trying to attack the elections. Sarah Huckabee Sanders then tried to cover up Trump’s crime by insisting that he didn’t actually say it, even though she was in the room during his press conference, and she knew that he did say it.
This raises the question of whether Sarah Huckabee Sanders’ words rise to the level of conspiracy to commit treason, making her the “Axis Sally” of the Trump-Russia plot. Legally, this is far from black and white. But when you place it within the context of her previous attempts at verbally obstructing justice from the briefing room podium, there is an increasing argument for criminal charges against Huckabee Sanders. Robert Mueller is moving aggressively and sparing no one. We’ll see which of Trump’s advisers end up being charged with what.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report