Treason: Michael Flynn Wasn’t Charged With It But His Colleague and Bosses Could Be

by Bob Schwartz

Michael Flynn pled guilty to lying to the FBI. He escaped other charges, including treason, for transactions, with a foreign power (Russia) during the presidential transition—after Trump was elected but before he took office. During that period, President Obama was in exclusive charge of U.S. foreign policy.

The Treason statute reads:

Whoever, owing allegiance to the United States, levies war against them or adheres to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort within the United States or elsewhere, is guilty of treason and shall suffer death, or shall be imprisoned not less than five years and fined under this title but not less than $10,000; and shall be incapable of holding any office under the United States. (18 U.S. Code § 2381)

From what we know so far about the discussions between Trump officials and the Russians offering to ease Obama sanctions (an indication that Russia was not our friend), the Russians were likely made to feel “comfortable” about their prospects.

Flynn is cooperating with the Special Prosecutor, which makes it more likely that more will be revealed about these transactions and the people involved. Just because Flynn was not charged with treason—though he still could be if he reneges on cooperating—doesn’t mean that others won’t be.

Three final points.

Is treason a “high crime or misdemeanor” under the impeachment provision of the Constitution? You don’t have to be a lawyer to guess that it is.

Will anyone be executed if treason is found? Certainly not, but the range from five years to life in prison is a long one.

Will Trump pardon anyone, including himself, if charged with any crimes stemming from the Russian transactions, treason or otherwise? Yes, with the exception of those, like Flynn, who are cooperating. They don’t deserve his generosity, demonstrating none of the loyalty and obedience that Trump expects and prizes.