“I don’t think President Obama has committed treason,” said Senator Thom Tillis (RN.C.), who is ready for reelection this year.
“I don’t know what he’s talking about,” added Senator Lindsey Graham (RS.C.). “I have no evidence to believe that he has committed treason.”
Trump’s allies often claim the president joked every time he makes a controversial statement, even when Trump’s tone is serious and he repeats the claim multiple times. For example, Trump told a reporter Tuesday that he was “not kidding” when asked if he was serious when he said he had ordered a slowdown in coronavirus testing.
“It’s a silly and comical thing, and you guys stopped taking everything so seriously,” said Senator Kevin Cramer (RN.D.), who laughed at the question. “I don’t think the former president has committed treason.”
But not everyone has fun. Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), one of the most vocal critics of the Trump Republican Party, said she did not see the president’s comments but that “obviously, he shouldn’t have said that.”
In a interview With the Christian Broadcasting Network on Monday, Trump accused Obama of treason but provided no evidence to back up the accusation. It’s a constant refrain from Trump, whose allies have stepped up their attacks on Obama in recent months, accusing the former president of illegally attacking Trump and his associates during the 2016 campaign and the presidential transition period.
Treason, the only crime specifically defined in the United States Constitution, is punishable by death and has rarely been charged in modern times. But Trump has a penchant for accusing his political enemies of treason, especially Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), The chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, who led the impeachment efforts against the president. While presidents often criticize their predecessors, it is highly unusual for one president to accuse another of treason.
Republican senators avoided echoing those unfounded claims. While many of them sympathize with Trump’s concerns about the origins of Russia’s investigation, for example, Republicans simply didn’t want to talk about it on Tuesday.
“I have more important things to worry about,” said Senator John Cornyn (R-Texas).
Senator Ron Johnson (R-Wisconsin), who is leading an investigation into the activities of the Obama administration during the presidential transition process in late 2016 and early 2017, also declined to endorse Trump’s “treason” charge.
“The president speaks for himself,” said Johnson. “I am seeing corruption with the transition process, which I think is obviously true. And we just have to find out everything that happened for the American people to understand, so I hope it never happens again. I’m not going to respond to what the president said. “
Senator Mike Braun (R-Ind.) Described any allegation of treason as “inflammatory,” but did not comment on Trump’s comments, saying he had only heard of them.
The Republican Party’s resigned response to Trump’s comments also suggests a level of fatigue by asking him to respond to the latest controversial tweet or comment, while knowing that any appearance of criticism can spark a fiery tweet from the president himself. When asked about a separate issue Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell accused journalists of trying to lead him into a food fight with Trump by asking about the president’s controversial statements.
“Every week, you all try to get me to comment on the president’s comments on a variety of different things,” McConnell (R-Ky.) Said.
Following his acquittal in the Senate impeachment trial, Trump pursued his predecessor and other top Obama administration officials while seeking revenge for what he calls a “coup” against his campaign and presidency. Trump has said he started the FBI’s counterintelligence investigation into possible links between his presidential campaign and the Kremlin.
But Trump has not cited evidence of the claims, and a report by the Justice Department’s inspector general last year stated that the counterintelligence investigation was successfully opened in 2016. The same surveillance report documented a number of errors and omissions in the requests. Justice Department watchdog against a Trump campaign aide, Carter Page, that the Senate Judiciary Committee is investigating, in addition to the FBI’s handling of the investigation into Michael Flynn, the president’s former national security adviser.
“I don’t make accusations like that until I know more about the facts,” Graham said.
“I have no evidence to believe [Obama] He committed treason, but I think what happened after the election with General Flynn under surveillance was very problematic and I would like to know more about it, “added Graham.
Earlier this year, Trump pressured Graham to bring Obama to the committee to testify about his possible involvement in initial investigations that targeted the Trump campaign and his associates. But Graham fired quickly that idea, saying it would set a dangerous precedent.
“I understand President Trump’s frustration, but be careful what you wish for. Just be careful what you wish for, ”Graham said at the time.
In his interview Monday, the president also made reference to the investigation led by John Durham, the US attorney in Connecticut, which focuses on the origins of the Russian investigation and whether there is enough evidence to indict former administration officials. Obama’s.
“I never met Durham because I want to stay out of it, because otherwise he will look political,” Trump said. “Let’s see what they invent, but they don’t have to tell me anything. All I have to do is read the newspapers.