noun (also high treason)
the crime of betraying one's country, especially by attempting to kill the sovereign or overthrow the government: they were convicted of treason.
• the action of betraying someone or something: doubt is the ultimate treason against faith.
• (petty treason) historical the crime of murdering someone to whom the murderer owed allegiance, such as a master or husband.
usage: Formerly, there were two types of crime to which the term treason was applied: petty treason (the crime of murdering one's master) and high treason (the crime of betraying one's country). As a classification of offense, the crime of petty treason was abolished in 1828. In modern use, the term high treason is now often simply called treason.
secret or illegal cooperation or conspiracy, especially in order to cheat or deceive others: the armed forces were working in collusion with drug traffickers | collusion between media owners and political leaders.
• Law: illegal cooperation or conspiracy, especially between ostensible opponents in a lawsuit.
I just thought I'd get those definitions on the record. If they're faulty or incomplete, you can blame the New Oxford Dictionary of American English.
That being said, I am no fan of the boor currently in the White House. I didn't vote for him. I voted for Gandalf the Gray. (Gandalf the White was too much of a goody-two-shoes for my taste.) I don't carry water for Trump or any member of his family.
Nonetheless, I am getting mighty tired of the current media frenzy over the Trump campaign's ostensible conspiracy with the Russians to torpedo Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign. I say "ostensible" because at this point, no proof of any such conspiracy has been presented in public. (Who knows what Robert Mueller and his crack team of Democrat lawyers will turn up?)
A couple of days ago, Donald Trump, Jr. admitted to having taken a meeting with a Russian lawyer named Natalia Veselnitskaya, whom he believed to be associated with the Russian government. Veselnitskaya offered evidence of damaging information about Hillary Clinton's campaign. According to Trump, the "evidence" she presented was vague and contradictory, and Veselnitskaya quickly steered the conversation onto the topic of the conflict between the US and Russia over foreign adoptions, which had been stopped by a series of tit-fot-tat sanctions applied by the US and Russia, respectively.
For the sake of argument, let's assume that Trump's disclosures about this meeting are accurate and reasonably complete. Let's stipulate that the Russian government supported Trump in opposition to Hillary and wanted to give him information they'd obtained, through whatever means, legally or illegally.
Based on the conversation as related by Trump Jr., no such information was transmitted in this meeting. It remains to be seen whether others privy to this meeting contradict that notion, but at least as of July 13, 2017, that's all we know about the conversation.
Does this meeting constitute "collusion?" No. For one thing, collusion is synonymous with conspiracy, wherein an illegal act is planned and/or executed by willing participants. If Russia illegally obtained whatever information Veselnitskaya claimed to have without Trump's knowledge, it was not collusion. If he knowingly planned to obtain such information, or requested that the Russians obtain it illegally, then it would in fact be collusion.
Receipt of information from a domestic or foreign source, even if obtained illegally, is not itself illegal. If it were, news outlets who received Wikileaks or the Pentagon Papers or any number of leaks of classified information from inside the administration would be as guilty as those who released that information. This is a protection enshrined by the First Amendment to the Constitution. It would only be illegal if Trump & Co. actively and knowingly suborned the security breach. To my knowledge, at this point there is no evidence to that effect.
So much for collusion.
As for the treason charge, why, it is not treasonous to welcome information discrediting your political opponents, even if it does come from the bad old Russians. Refer to that definition of treason above. We're not at war with Russia.
Even if we were, being opposed to Hillary Clinton is not treasonous. Benefiting from the release of discrediting, spear-phished emails from John Podesta about DNC activities is not illegal, either. I'm sure the Trumps were ecstatic when those revelations surfaced. The only way they're guilty of a crime is if they conspired with the Russians to obtain them.
And that's where proof is (at least for now) utterly lacking.
I'm sure the Russians worked hard to inject chaos into our election. They've likely been doing so for decades. The KGB (excuse me, they now call themselves the FSB) are extremely skilled at this sort of activity. It's entirely likely that they would have done the same thing regardless of the identity of Clinton's opponent.
Remember, there was no love lost between Vladimir Putin and the Obama/Clinton foreign policy. Russia's client state, Libya, was dismembered after Obama reneged on a promise to do nothing more than establish a no-fly zone over Libya by actively oousting Muammar Gaddafi--after Hillary convinced him to do so. Since then, relations with the West have deteriorated to the point where we are a fingernail's width from actively fighting each other.
Injecting chaos into the US election is a bold, useful strategic move for the Russians. If Clinton had won in spite of the revelatory email leak, her credibility would have been undermined. If Trump won, against all odds, it would be child's play to wreak havoc on his administration by drumming up hysteria over the way in which he was elected. The media focus entirely on how horrible Trump is, making it difficult for him to enact his business-friendly agenda.
It's a win-win for Russia. Lose-lose for the US.
Again, I want to emphasize that I am no fan of Trump. I agree with some of his positions. I do think we need to shore up the military, and I am happy to see our position as an energy-exporting country making it harder on OPEC and Russia. I'd be happy to see a smaller corporate tax and see our economy rebound as a result. I see nothing wrong with enforcing our immigration laws.
Otherwise, Trump is pretty much the last person who I'd like to see in the White House. He's an atrocious boor. He's crude, poorly spoken, even more thin-skinned than Obama, which I didn't think possible. He lies or misstates facts constantly. It's embarassing that he represents the United States to the rest of the world.
At the same time, I am just not convinced that anything we've seen to date points to collusion, treason, or any impeachable offense. You can't impeach a President just because he's repugnant, opposes your political philosophies, or has orange skin.