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https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2020/08/russia-ukraine-trump-biden-intelligence-foreign-interference-election.html

Can American politicians be tried for treason if it is proven that they collaborated with a foreign enemy to get someone elected? If so, how would the trial go proceed and how likely the politicians would get punished and what sort of punishment they would face.

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  • This would be better on Law.SE. Also the activity might be covered by laws other than treason. Aug 9, 2020 at 7:49

1 Answer 1

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Yes, but this wouldn't count since America isn't at war with Russia.

The entirety of law governing the criminal charge of Treason is given in Article 3, Section 3 of the US Constitution:

Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying war against them, or in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort. No person shall be convicted of treason unless on the testimony of two witnesses to the same overt act, or on confession in open court.

The Congress shall have power to declare the punishment of treason, but no attainder of treason shall work corruption of blood, or forfeiture except during the life of the person attainted.

From this, we can see that the only way to be charged with Treason is to either wage war against the United States, or to give "aid and comfort" to people who are waging war against the United States. While collaborating with enemies to facilitate the election of sympathetic politicians might be Treason under the "aid and comfort" clause of this section, this would require the United States to be at war with the nation in question.

As a result, even if Trump had collaborated with Russia to get elected, then this wouldn't be Treason, since the United States was not at war with Russia at the time.

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  • This is a good and interesting answer. Has the definition of "war" really not been expanded? Would it not have been treason to assist Vietnam during the (undeclared) Vietnam war? What about the USSR, which we never fought against directly?
    – divibisan
    Nov 12, 2020 at 2:41

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