Upholding the Constitution Isn’t Treason
By Arturo Castañares / Publisher and CEO
This week’s revelations that several government officials may be working to protect the country from a dangerous president shocked many politicos and it should alarm us all.
A new book by Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Bob Woodward quotes several White House insiders who claim that staffers have purposely taken papers from Trump’s desk, slow-played policy ideas, and even distracted the President in order to protect the country from his most dangerous impulses.
The book claims some of the President’s closest advisors and appointees understand he is petty, shallow, and dangerous to the point that they feel like the last line of defense in keeping him from acting out his fantasies.
Those claims were scary enough but then just two days later the New York Times ran an essay written by an unnamed senior administration official that claims he/she is one of those that is working to protect the country from the duly elected president.
The New York Times knows the identity of the writer and confirms the person is a senior administration official, but refuses to name the person in order to protect his/her position.
Within a few hours, some of the President’s closest aides began publicly declaring they are not the writer of the scathing piece. Vice-President Mike Pence, Chief of Staff John Kelly, and even Defense Secretary James Mattis have stated they are not the one.
And Trump, in his usual style, declared both the book and the article works of fiction, and called upon the New York Times to disclose the person in the name of national security, demanding the person be handed “over to the government at once.”
We should be alarmed, not of a government official openly declaring his insubordination of the President. That’s not the problem.
The real concern should be that the President, his staff, and his Cabinet have responded to both the book and the article in ways that seem more in place in a dictatorship than in our free democracy.
Trump claims the actions of this unnamed staffer amount to treason, a strong word that sounds official but is wholly inaccurate in this case.
Treason is the federal crime of levying war against the United States, or in adhering to its enemies, giving them aid and comfort.
Trump’s reaction to the news that some among his staff are working against him is wrong. It may be betrayal. It may be disloyal. It may even be dishonest, but a crime it is not.
In fact, the opposite is true. What these staffers are doing, if in fact they are actually doing what is being claimed, is patriotic and it is 100% consistent with the oath they took upon joining the government.
The oath each federal appointee takes swears that they will “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic” and that they “will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office” they hold.
No where in that oath does it say they will be loyal to Trump, or to follow down a dangerous path that could prove detrimental to the country.
Their oath to defend against enemies, including domestic threats, supersedes any personal loyalties, obligations, or duty to any person.
And Trump’s natural instinct to respond with threats of prosecution for a crime is ideologically opposite of what is actually happening.
Trump’s claim that the actions of warning the public and taking affirmation actions to protect the country from disaster are treasonous should alarm us more than the underlying actions themselves.
And his demand that the author of the article be handed over to the government sounds like an authoritarian regime in some banana republic. Trump should be wearing a white captain’s cap, dark glasses, and a gaudy military uniform with a sash to look more like the cartoonish strongman that he sounds like.
Bob Woodward’s book is important not only for the claims he makes, but more so because of who he is.
Woodward and his reporter partner Carl Bernstein broke the Watergate story about Richard Nixon’s illegal acts and cover up when no other newspaper would cover it. Woodward helped expose the swamp that engulfed that White House, including the President that kept an enemies list, engaged in obstructing justice, and flatly lied to the public for years.
At the core of Woodward’s reporting were details provided by a then-unnamed senior administration official that leaked information, in his view, to support and defend the Constitution. (Sound familiar?)
That source went unnamed for over 30 years until it was finally revealed that he was the Associate Director of the FBI at the time of Watergate. Michael Felt, better known by the code name Deep Throat, felt his duty to the country demanded he expose what he knew.
No one called it treason. No one demanded Felt be prosecuted. And no one would have known the depths of the corruption in the White House had he not violated the trust of his President, the crook at the center of it all.
Felt was a patriot. He fulfilled his sworn oath to the country. And he set an example that is being followed today.
Whoever the author of this week’s article may be, he or she or they are living up to the ideals of America, where our right to criticize our leaders and to demand change, and even revolt against them, is enshrined in the words of our Declaration of Independence and our Constitution.
It is their right and duty to object to corrupt leadership, especially at the highest office. It is their right to openly express what they know if it helps protect the public, and the Republic.
We should be alarmed that more people aren’t alarmed by the fact that several people close to the President believe he is a danger to our country.
If open defiance and revolt were outlawed, abolished, or discouraged in this country, our very existence would be in danger.
In fact, more “senior administration officials” should take the extraordinary step of speaking up before it’s too late. It’s their patriotic duty to do more than frustrate the President; they have to reveal the full truth and let the process run its course.