Treason says Trump as aide declares resistance
Patriotism or treason? A mystery White House official has written a shock article claiming they are part of a “resistance” working to frustrate the president’s “reckless decisions”.
“TREASON?” thundered President Donald Trump in a characteristic outburst. This time, the cause was unprecedented.
Yesterday, The New York Times published an opinion piece in which an unnamed “senior administrative official” claimed White House staff are working to circumvent Trump’s agenda in a desperate effort to protect national security.
The writer described Trump as an “impetuous, adversarial, petty and ineffective” leader whose amoral and impulsive decisions are kept in check by aides acting as the “adults in the room.” They also revealed that there were “whispers” of invoking the 25th Amendment to force Trump from office.
In response, the incensed president demanded the newspaper hand over its “gutless” source “for national security purposes”.
It is not the first we have heard of such discord. Just days ago, details emerged from Fear, a new book from renowned journalist Bob Woodward which used anonymous inside sources to gain an insight into the Trump administration.
Woodward claims Trump’s erratic decisions include an order to “kill” Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. In one instance, aide Gary Cohn allegedly stole a letter from Trump’s desk that would have removed the US from a crucial trade deal with South Korea to stop him signing it.
According to Woodward, the situation in the White House amounts to an administrative coup d’etat.
But is it treason? According to US law, treason is the act of “levying war” against the country or giving “aid and comfort” to its enemies. The actions of the unnamed aide, while controversial, do not fall into either category.
In fact, political writer Joe Klein hailed The New York Times piece as an “act of American patriotism.”
The Atlantic’s David Frum, however, chastised the writer for cowardice and self-interest. “Speak in your own name. Resign in a way that will count.”
So, was it patriotism or treason?
Fire and fury
Patriotism, say some. The aide can do more to prevent potential catastrophes caused by Trump’s reckless decisions inside the White House than out of it. Sometimes, being loyal to your country might mean disobeying a leader if it’s in the best interests of the nation. When Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian collusion reaches its conclusion, then we might see that Trump is the true traitor.
Treason, respond others. If an official truly believes a president is unfit for office, it is their duty to resign, publicly state their concerns, and follow the legal mechanisms — such as impeachment or the 25th Amendment — to remove the individual from office. If what the writer says is true, publishing the op-ed is only likely to make Trump more suspicious, enraged and uncontrollable. That’s dangerous.
- Is the writer of The New York Times piece a traitor or a patriot?
- Which official do you think wrote the article?
- Research five members of Trump’s team. Write a short description of the responsibilities and background of each.
- Imagine you are working for a president who is prone to rages and impulsive decisions. Write a short story from the perspective of an aide in their government and explore how they would react to the crisis.
Some People Say...
“We are trying to do what’s right even when Donald Trump won’t.”Anonymous
What do you think?
Q & A
- What do we know?
- The New York Times has published an opinion piece by an anonymous figure in the White House. The piece claims that aides are attempting to prevent Trump from acting out poorly judged decisions that could endanger US national security. Reaction to the piece has been mixed. While some have praised the aide for speaking out, many others have argued that it would be more honourable to publicly resign and state their grievances with Trump.
- What do we not know?
- Who wrote the piece. Its use of the word “lodestar” to describe John McCain sparked speculation that Vice President Mike Pence, who has used the old-fashioned word repeatedly, was the mystery writer. Others suggest this was deliberate misdirection to distract attention away from the true source.
- To find a way around something.
- Acting quickly without thinking the action through properly.
- 25th Amendment
- This allows a member of the president’s Cabinet to notify Congress if they do not believe the president is fit to carry out their duties. If two-thirds of Congress agree, then the vice president can be installed in office.
- Bob Woodward
- He won a Pulitzer Prize for his investigative reporting which exposed the Watergate scandal. The scandal refers to the widespread corruption and illegal spying activities carried out by the administration of Richard Nixon, who was resigned before he could be impeached.
- Coup d’etat
- When a state or leader is overthrown suddenly through unconstitutional means. Some commentators warn it is dangerous for democracy for unelected aides to be taking decisions on behalf of an allegedly incapable leader.
- Joe Klein
- Known for his successful novel Primary Colors, which satirically describes the true events leading up to election of Bill Clinton as president in 1992. The book was originally published anonymously.