Is it really treasonous not to applaud the President?
By Joe Harker
Not everyone is a fan of Donald Trump, with many Democrats not applauding him during his State Of The Union address.
While most would see this as hostility from political opponents who wholeheartedly disapprove of the President, Trump has suggested it is treason, an offence punishable by death in the US. He said: "They were like death and un-American.
"Somebody said 'treasonous'. I mean, eh. I guess, why not? Can we call that treason, why not? I mean they certainly didn't seem to love our country very much."
Democrats have not taken the comments lying down, with Senator Sheldon Whitehouse suggesting the President had been watching too much North Korean TV. People who have to applaud when their leader speaks are probably not as free as they might think and Senator Whitehouse believes Trump needs to understand that his political opponents are allowed to express their displeasure at his actions and show they disagree with him. He said: "That's not the way America works.
"I think that the most un-American thing was what the President said that there oughtn't be dispute or disagreement with him among senators and members of the House of Representatives."
The Washington Post explained to the President that his accusation of treason was well wide of the mark, with it being a serious crime that certainly does not cover refusing to applaud the President after he's done talking. In the US the actual definition of treason is thus: "Treason against the United States shall consist only in levying war against them, or in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort."
Not clapping the President certainly does not fit that description and it is a dangerous word to be throwing around with reckless abandon. It has been used in relation to the investigations into links with Russia, with critics of Trump wondering if he could be convicted of treason and the President himself suggesting the some for FBI agents who crticised him. While he may have meant it as a joke it is probably not the best term for a President to be using in jest. He knows it will capture the headlines and give his supporters new targets to direct their vitriol at.
Rick Wilson believes the President has reached a "new low" and has started down a slippery slope towards categorising political opponents as enemies. He also calls Trump a "Kentucky Fried Nero fiddling while the stock market burned", suggesting the President is trying to distract attention away from the biggest points drop in Dow Jones' history.