Could Trumps And Their Associates Be Charged With Racketeering, Espionage, And Treason?
Updated: Nov 11, 2018
An interesting question that we’ve often seen asked during the investigations into this current administration is whether collusion is covered by racketeering, espionage, and treason laws. Such laws are used against organized crime, spies, and traitors. We’re going to look at the case for all 3 under both impeachment and the criminal justice system.
Many people are unclear as to what the limits of impeachment are in the United States. The president and other federal officials can be impeached and removed from office by congress who has a virtually unlimited control of the process and defines what high crimes and misdemeanors are. So long as the majority of the House and 2/3 of the Senate vote in favor, it’s over for said officials. So yes, Donald Trump and other officials could be impeached for these 3 crimes or for a conspiracy involving these crimes even if the evidence would be insufficient to convict them during a criminal trial.
Let’s talk about criminal trials for our three crimes: racketeering, espionage, and treason. Several of these crimes can be committed at both the state and federal level. For instance, New York and the federal government both have racketeering laws. Outside of their legal definitions, these crimes also have similar derivative crimes that can be charged if circumstances are different. For example, if someone didn’t spy for Russia but only did their bidding, they would be charged as a foreign agent instead. These 3 crimes and their variations also can be part of a conspiracy charge. If such crimes were discussed and a concrete step was taken in implementation, conspiracy can be charged even if the crime wasn’t committed.
Racketeering is probably the easiest to charge both at the federal level and in New York. At the federal level prosecutors need only prove that they committed multiple offenses in an organized fashion from a long list of offenses including various forms of fraud, bribery, hacking, and money laundering. At the point the Trumps and their associates can be charged just like the mob.
Espionage can be a little tougher, but both Donald Trump and Jared Kushner could be guilty. Trump himself revealed code word level intelligence to the Russian foreign minister in the Oval Office and may have allowed them to plant bugs inside. Furthermore, he has spoken on unsecured phone lines that have been tapped by both China and Russia. Such disclosures could be a violation of at least one of the espionage statutes on its own even if the president can legally declassify information. In fact, it is believed that the Oval Office incident is being investigated by Robert Mueller. If he has received money or had secret deals he could potentially be charged as a paid spy. The same goes for both Trump and Kushner in the case of Saudi Arabia where Jared Kushner gave the Saudi crown prince classified intelligence about his political rivals who were then purged in a crackdown. Disclosures of classified intelligence through negligence, and to advance personal business deals is criminal under the espionage laws and possibly under the bribery ones as well.
Treason and similar crimes such as being an unregistered foreign agent can also be charged. Paul Manafort and Michael Flynn both committed treason by helping Al Qaeda and ISIS respectively on Russian and Turkish orders respectively. They were both unregistered foreign agents of those countries and could be charged for both crimes. Both are now convicted felons with plea deals. In the case of Flynn’s treason and failure to register as a foreign agent ,Donald Trump himself may have had knowledge of and been involved in Flynn’s work, which could place him in legal jeopardy. Collusion with Russia could be directly treason if Russia’s hacking activities count as an act of cyber war. An easier prosecution would be a failure to register with the Attorney General for being an organization subject to foreign control that engaged in civilian military activity. Even easier prosecutions would involve failures to register as foreign agents, which for the Trumps and their associates could very easily include Russia, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE whom Trump and his administration are suspected of receiving campaign help from, along with financial benefit and emoluments. The Trump administration has sought to help those 3 countries significantly.
It will be interesting to see exactly who gets charged with what by the end of these investigations. It is highly probable that prosecutors will stick with easier crimes and cases as they have so far. On this list they would include racketeering and foreign agent type cases. Although who knows maybe they’re all innocent… Nah I’m just fucking with you lol.