On Monday, while delivering a speech in Cincinnati, Ohio, President Trump slammed Democrats who reacted coldly to his State of the Union last week, calling them “treasonous.”
They were like death and un-American. Un-American. Somebody said, “Treasonous.” I mean, yeah, I guess, why not? Can we call that treason? Why not?
Many individuals on both sides of the aisle, as well as in the press, have castigated the president for his choice of words. On Tuesday, Deputy White House Press Secretary Hogan Gidley called the remark “tongue-in-cheek,” adding that “the President was obviously joking.”
While seemingly innumerable progressive pundits and comics have used the word “treason” when speaking of President Trump or Republicans (see: Bill Maher calls Republicans “treasonous rats“), Democratic politicians have done so as well.
Here are five times Democratic politicians used the word “treason” or “treasonous” against Republicans:
1. Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) on Intel Memo
Appearing on SiriusXM’s “Make it Plain with Mark Thompson” on January 30, Sen. Cory Booker claimed that the release of the Nunes memo could be “viewed as treasonous.”
The following is Booker’s exchange with Thompson:
BOOKER: This fury and fire that has been created within the right around this [memo] is to me tantamount to a dangerous conspiracy theory that can undermine the important work our Justice Department and intelligence communities do.
THOMPSON: Well, if it’s undermining, Senator, ought we consider these very actions to be obstructive themselves?
BOOKER: Well, obstructive, I might say tantamount to treasonous. In the sense of when you violate the intelligence community’s mandates around classified documentation, what should be released, you could be betraying or — especially if you’re revealing sources and methods or giving some color to sources and methods — you are actually endangering fellow Americans in the intelligence community and our ability to source intelligence. So, to me, this is something that could be potentially viewed as treasonous.
2. Gov. Andrew Cuomo on the Tax Bill
In November 2017, after Reps. John Katko and Claudia Tenney – both Republicans representing districts in the state of New York – voted for the GOP tax bill, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said:
This bill is poison for New York. For any New York representative to vote for this bill that they know is targeted at New York violates their oath. It really does. It’s treasonous. It’s modern day Benedict Arnold.
3. Howard Dean on Iran Letter
In March 2015, Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) penned a letter to Iranian leaders telling them that any deal struck with the Obama administration could be undone by a subsequent administration. Forty-six other Republican senators signed on as well.
The letter reads in part:
… we will consider any agreement regarding your nuclear-weapons program that is not approved by the Congress as nothing more than an executive agreement between President Obama and Ayatollah Khamenei. The next president could revoke such an executive agreement with the stroke of a pen and future Congresses could modify the terms of the agreement at any time.
Appearing on MSNBC’s “The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell,” former Democratic governor and presidential candidate Howard Dean said:
This is ridiculous. It’s really outrageous. If Tom Cotton wasn’t a veteran of the armed forces, I’d say this borders on treason.
4. Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) on Donald Trump Jr.
On July 8, 2017, The New York Times reported on a June 2016 meeting between Donald Trump Jr. and Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya. Shortly after the news broke about the meeting, Hillary Clinton’s former running mate, Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA), said the following on CNN:
Nothing is proven yet. But, we’re now beyond obstruction of justice in terms of what’s being investigated. This is moving into perjury, false statements and even into potentially treason.
5. Rep. Ted Lieu’s (D-CA) “Cloud of Treason”
In March 2017, after CNN released a story titled “US officials: Info suggests Trump associates may have coordinated with Russians,” Rep. Ted Lieu tweeted the following:
While “cloud of treason” is a slightly less direct way of simply crying “treason,” it still checks the box.
Certainly, Trump’s “treason” remark was outrageous, especially coming from a President of the United States, but such language isn’t entirely unprecedented on the other side of the aisle either.