POLITICS

Republican senators refuse to back Trump’s ‘treason’

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“I don’t think that President Obama committed treason,” mentioned Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), who’s up for reelection this 12 months.

“I don’t know what he’s talking about,” added Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.). “I don’t have any evidence to believe he committed treason.”

Trump’s allies typically declare the president was joking each time he makes a controversial assertion, even when Trump’s tone is severe and he repeats the declare a number of occasions. For instance, Trump instructed a reporter on Tuesday that “I don’t kid” when requested whether or not he was severe when he mentioned he had ordered a slowdown of coronavirus testing.

“It’s a silly, comedic thing, and you guys got to stop taking it all so seriously,” mentioned Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), who laughed off the query. “I don’t think the former president committed treason.”

But not everyone seems to be amused. Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), certainly one of Trump’s extra vocal GOP critics, mentioned that she didn’t see the president’s feedback however that “obviously, he shouldn’t have said that.”

In an interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network on Monday, Trump accused Obama of treason however didn’t present proof to back up the allegation. It’s a relentless chorus from Trump, whose allies have ramped up their assaults towards Obama in current months — accusing the previous president of illegally focusing on Trump and his associates throughout the 2016 marketing campaign and the presidential transition interval.

Treason, the one crime particularly outlined within the U.S. Constitution, is punishable by dying and has hardly ever been charged in trendy occasions. But Trump has a penchant for accusing his political foes of treason, most notably Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), the House Intelligence Committee chairman, who led the impeachment efforts towards the president. While presidents typically criticize their predecessors, it’s extremely uncommon for one president to accuse one other of treason.

GOP senators averted echoing these unfounded claims. While lots of them are sympathetic to Trump’s issues concerning the origins of the Russia investigation, for instance, Republicans merely didn’t need to discuss it on Tuesday.

“I’ve got more important things to worry about,” Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) mentioned.

Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), who’s main an investigation into the Obama administration’s actions throughout the presidential transition course of in late 2016 and early 2017, equally declined to endorse Trump’s “treason” cost.

“The president speaks for himself,” Johnson mentioned. “I’m looking at the corruption with the transition process, which I think is evidently true. And we just need to figure out all that did happen so that the American people understand it, so hopefully it’ll never happen again. I’m not going to respond to what the president said.”

Sen. Mike Braun (R-Ind.) described any treason allegation as “inflammatory,” however didn’t touch upon Trump’s remarks, saying he had solely heard about them.

The GOP’s resigned response to Trump’s feedback additionally suggests a stage of fatigue with being requested to reply for the most recent tweet or controversial comment, whereas figuring out that any semblance of criticism can immediate a fiery tweet from the president himself. Asked a few separate topic on Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell accused reporters of attempting to get him right into a meals combat with Trump by asking him concerning the president’s controversial statements.

“Every week, you all try to get me into a running commentary on the president’s comments about a variety of different things,” McConnell (R-Ky.) mentioned.

In the aftermath of his acquittal within the Senate’s impeachment trial, Trump has gone after his predecessor and different senior Obama administration officers as he seeks revenge for what he calls a “coup” towards his marketing campaign and presidency. Trump has mentioned it started with the FBI’s counterintelligence investigation into attainable ties between his presidential marketing campaign and the Kremlin.

But Trump has not cited proof for the claims, and a Justice Department inspector common’s report final 12 months said that the counterintelligence probe was correctly opened in 2016. The identical watchdog report documented a sequence of errors and omissions within the Justice Department’s purposes for surveillance towards a Trump marketing campaign adviser, Carter Page, which the Senate Judiciary Committee is investigating as well as to the FBI’s dealing with of the investigation into Michael Flynn, the president’s former nationwide safety adviser.

“I don’t make accusations like that until I know more about the facts,” Graham mentioned.

“I don’t have any evidence to believe [Obama] committed treason, but I do believe what happened after the election with surveilling General Flynn was very problematic and I’d like to know more about it,” Graham added.

Earlier this 12 months, Trump pushed Graham to haul Obama earlier than the committee to testify about his potential involvement within the preliminary investigations that focused Trump’s marketing campaign and his associates. But Graham shortly dismissed that concept, saying it might set a harmful precedent.

“I understand President Trump’s frustration, but be careful what you wish for. Just be careful what you wish for,” Graham mentioned on the time.

In his interview on Monday, the president additionally referenced the investigation being led by John Durham, the U.S. legal professional in Connecticut, which focuses on the origins of the Russia probe and whether or not there may be sufficient proof to indict former Obama administration officers.

“I never met Durham because I want to stay out of it, because otherwise it’s going to look political,” Trump mentioned. “Let’s see what they come up with — but they don’t have to tell me. All I have to do is read the papers.”

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