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OpEdNews Op Eds    H4'ed 5/19/17

Trump says Treason is legal "if the President does it"

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And here is UN Ambassador Haley on Russia:

"Asked by NBC's Matt Lauer what she thinks Trump should do in response to Russia's cyber attacks meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign, Haley said, "Take it seriously. We cannot trust Russia. We should never trust Russia." Washpo

Is it legal for the President to share secret intelligence with a nation we should never trust?

These statements indicate 1) that President Trump, in terms of his own appointees to key posts, is verging on treason and 2) that Trump is at loggerheads with the very people he appointed to carry out his foreign policy vision. This isolates Trump and plays into the strategy to force him to resign, possibly based on a campaign that targets him as having committed treason. The accusation alone is a dagger in his back, and it is being set up by the people he chose to help him govern but who now, most likely, see Trump as a threat to their careers.

Let us investigate the constitutional and legal questions that underly this implication of treason.

When it was revealed that President Trump shared "classified" material with Russian officials, the claims he had violated the law were quickly quenched when it was understood that he can, at will, declassify material.

However, if that is the case (and I will argue it is NOT), then the declassified material that has not even been shared with our key allies, is open to all of us. Did Trump, in fact, share information he determined was declassified, and therefore open to anyone (under the Freedom of Information Act).

So if Trump was legal in sharing information with Russia because he has the power, unilaterally to declassify material, does that mean it is now declassified and therefore accessible by any citizen? If that is his defense, the answer is yes.

Since parts of the information he shared is NOT available to the public, that means he did not declassify it but merely shared it. Can the President share classified material? There is no doubt he has the authority to declassify material and share it, but then it is available to all. That is not the issue since, clearly, he did not intend, in sharing information in a secret meeting (and which he subsequently denied before it was proven that he had), to make the information publicly available.

That means he shared classified material, and his power to declassify is beside the point. So the only relevant question is: is it legal for the President to share top secret or classified information with anyone he wishes to share it with. Could he share it with his friends, his family, a reporter?

Ironically, the Washington Post, which broke the story, defended his right to share the information by claiming he had the right to declassify it (which no one denies) but their defense falls apart because he had no intention of declassifying the material and thus making it available to anyone. The context was the informatioin was shared in a secret meeting, hardly the forum to declassify material for public access.

Here is the Post version:

" But when Trump spoke about highly classified information with Russian officials in a White House meeting last week, he did not break the law, legal analysts say."

The president is essentially the ultimate arbiter of what is classified and what is not. While the heads of particular agencies also have original classification authority -- the power to deem material classified or not classified -- their authority is limited to their departments and bound by their departments' particular rules.

The president, as the head of the executive branch, knows no such restrictions -- his power on the matter comes straight from the Constitution, legal analysts say.

[Trump revealed highly classified information to Russian foreign minister, ambassador]

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retired, working radical egalitarian/libertarian socialist old school independent, vegan, survivor

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