DOI: 10.5176/2251-3809_LRPP17.44

Authors: Noah Kupferberg


This is an academic poster entitled, “Is the President a Traitor?” The poster summarizes my legal analysis regarding whether an (as yet) hypothetical quid pro quo agreement between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin to release information damaging to Hillary Clinton in exchange for a shift in U.S. foreign policy favoring Russia would constitute treason under U.S. law. I study criminal law and legal history, two subjects which are converging at warp speed with the current American presidential administration. Last Monday, U.S. Presidential historian Douglas Brinkley told the Washington Post, “There’s a smell of treason in the air.” Thursday morning, Nicholas Kristof wrote an op-ed of the same title in the New York Times, concluding that proof of Trump’s collusion with Russia “would amount to treason.” I come to a different conclusion. In my legal analysis, although Trump in this hypothetical quid pro quo gave aid and comfort to a foreign power, intending by so doing to betray the United States (both of which are required under the law), the treason charge fails because the U.S. was not in a state of war with Russia in the fall of 2016. Thus, Trump is not a traitor to the United States—at least not in the legal sense.

Keywords: Treason Traitor Trump President United States America Kremlin Russia Quid Pro Quo Aid and Comfort Foreign Power State of War


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