Amid the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression and a global pandemic, President Trump on Sunday returned to a theme he has pushed over four dozen times in his term: That the “deep state” attempted a “treasonous” overthrow of his administration via the Russia investigation.
Despite scant evidence to support his claim, Trump has suggested five times this month that individuals and entities may have committed treason against the United States. According to a Fix analysis, Trump has accused no fewer than 10 individuals and entities of treason over the past three years, even though fewer than 30 have been charged with the crime in U.S. history. You can watch Trump make many of those treason allegations in the video above.
No U.S. president has used the word “treason” in public remarks since Bill Clinton did so in 2000, according to the American Presidency Project. Lyndon B. Johnson was the last president known to suggest that someone had committed treason — when he accused Richard Nixon, the Republican presidential nominee, of treason during a private phone call in 1968.
Trump floated his first treason accusation in January 2018 against then-FBI agent Peter Strzok. Since then, Trump has floated treason allegations against:
More than half of Trump’s treason allegations have come since Attorney General William P. Barr tapped U.S. Attorney John H. Durham to investigate the origins of the Russia investigation.
“I’m not telling anybody what to do. It’s up to Bill Barr and Bull Durham,” Trump said Sunday, before criticizing those involved in the Russia investigation. “I can tell you, from my standpoint, they’re guilty on so many different things, but they’re really guilty — you could call it treason.”
The treason allegations also come as Trump tries to shift the focus of the 2020 election away from his handling of the coronavirus pandemic by pushing baseless conspiracy theories. Trump has not sustained the polling bump he saw in the early days of the U.S. outbreak and trails former vice president Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee, in key swing states.
On Sunday, Trump made a new pitch to voters, saying he has “a chance to break the deep state.” But 11 months prior, Trump inadvertently undercut his own theory about the “deep state” and treason.
Asked at the time by ABC News’s George Stephanopoulos why the Obama administration did not leak the investigation into alleged election coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia, which Trump acknowledged could have sunk his candidacy, Trump did not dispute the premise.
“You know what, you’d have to ask them,” Trump said in June 2019. “ … The newspapers would not print it. I cannot believe it.”
It was the same news organizations that he had accused of treason one year before.
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