Trump Gets the Rosenbergs All Wrong

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tags: treason, Rosenbergs



Ronald Radosh, an adjunct fellow at the Hudson Institute, is author of a history of the Democratic Party and many other books.

[O]n Thursday, during his angry, rambling, and long press briefing in Paris, President Trump, obviously referring to those Democrats who were suggesting his son and campaign staff may have committed treason, made the following statement when asked about the charge of collusion by his campaign with Russia:

Hey, now it’s shown there’s no collusion, there’s no obstruction, there’s no nothing. Honestly, the whole thing, it is really a media witch hunt. It’s been a media witch hunt. And it’s bad for the country… And I think what’s happening is, as usual, the Democrats have played their card too hard on the Russia thing, because people aren’t believing it. It’s a witch hunt and they understand that. When they say “treason”—you know what treason is? That’s Julius and Ethel Rosenberg for giving the atomic bomb, OK? (my emphasis)

In making that claim, Trump—like some Democrats—has shown that he too does not understand the definition of “treason.” An individual can be convicted of treason by a confession in an open court, or if the defendant committed an overt act of treason that was witnessed by at least two people. That requirement was put in the law precisely to prevent an innocent person from being accused and convicted of treason, and to prevent the very carrying out of a witch hunt by a political adversary.

In citing as an example of treason the 1951 conviction of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, which led to their execution at Sing Sing prison in New York on June 19, 1953, Trump showed once again that he knows little history, and that he gets things wrong. 

The Rosenbergs were charged and found guilty of “conspiracy to commit espionage,” which requires a commission of one overt act, to be found guilty by a jury. 




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