From only allowing Russian press to be in a meeting with the Russian Ambassador, (as opposed to American press) to Trump’s legal team winning a Russia law firm of the year award, to firing FBI Director James Comey, who was in the process of investigating the 45th president to his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, wanting to create a Russian back channel, there is more than enough evidence to at least legitimately speculate about whether or not the current head of the executive branch has treasonous ties to Russia, and should be impeached. And these are only just a few examples of the possible Russian connections.

The whole world is watching the proceedings with baited breath, and the majority have noticed Trump’s ‘devil may care’ attitude regarding facing consequences for his actions. But, has anyone ever told Donald Trump that the legal punishment of committing treason is not just a possible fine, or jail time, or even impeachment, but death?

Definition of Treason

Just to be absolutely clear-- this is not a threat, or a call to arms. This is a legal consequence: US Code Title 18 Chapter 115 § 2381, which states

“Whoever, owing allegiance to the United States, levies war against them or adheres to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort within the United States or elsewhere, is Guilty Of Treason and shall suffer death.”

But that is not the only consequence.

They will also “be incapable of holding any office under the United States.” This is the definition given from the Cornell University of Law—one of the top law schools in the country—their information on the facts of the subject, if not their interpretation, would be accurately given. Any co-conspirators who are found guilty would also be prevented from holding office again.

This definition is almost directly from the United States Constitution, with just a few modifications. Article 3 Section 3: Treason states: “Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort.” The original clause uses language that is a bit more archaic.

“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.”

What do American Intelligence agencies say about Russian ties?

Along with Sally Yates, the former interim Attorney General who was also fired by Trump, the Obama appointed Director of National Intelligence, former General Sam Clapper, testified in front of a Senate Judicial subcommittee. Sally Yates testified that she warned the White House Council that Michael Flynn, the former National Security Advisor, was lying about his conversations with the Russian Ambassador, and thus was both compromised and susceptible to blackmail. Further tying Trump to Russia was Sam Clapper’s testimony.

There was evidence that there was Russian interference in the presidential election, and before his term ended President Obama ordered that two dozen analysts from the CIA, NSA, and the FBI to coordinate an investigation. According to Clapper, “They were given complete, unfettered mutual access to all sensitive raw intelligence data, and importantly, complete independence to reach their findings.” After a thorough examination, he could conclusively say that they “found that the Russian government pursued a multifaceted influence campaign in the run-up to the election, including aggressive use of cyber capabilities.”

But it gets worse. “The Russians used cyber operations against both political parties, including hacking into servers used by the Democratic National Committee and releasing stolen data to WikiLeaks and other media outlets.

Russia also collected on certain Republican Party- affiliated targets, but did not release any Republican-related data.”

Watergate parallels?

The consequences, if he was involved, isn’t just some fine Trump may face. While speculation between the parallels between Richard Nixon and Donald Trump have been saturating the media, this situation is different from Watergate. Nixon did an impeachable and illegal offense with the Watergate Affair, yes. But this was a homegrown problem--foreign countries were not involved. A case for impeachment does not translate to a case for treason--it’s an every square is a rectangle but not all rectangles are squares kind of situation. Meaning, you can be served with articles of impeachment without committing treason.

That’s not what impeachment means. Treason isn’t just a whole new ball game, it is a whole new sport. Although the formal impeachment process was started, Nixon also resigned before he ever could actually be impeached. Would Trump have wherewithal to do the same?

What would this mean for the future of the executive branch?

The goal of every single politician is to be reelected. This is not a partisan statement--it is true for all politicians who wants to continue their political careers, regardless of ideologies. Whoever succeeds Trump--because if they do find him guilty of treason, who knows if it’s going to be Pence; he very well may be involved as well and be charged as a co-conspirator--is going to remember that the man who pardoned Nixon for Watergate did not even run for reelection, his chances were so grave. And that was being pardoned for impeachment. Not treason.