Multiple examples of Russian interventions and efforts to intervene in the 2016 Elections in the United States have been well documented.
Every single US national security agency agrees that operatives of the Russian state and their agents used the tools and techniques of cyber warfare to probe for weaknesses in the vote-counting and eligible voter rolls of multiple state governments.
All agree that the efforts of Russian and their friends and agents to spread disinformation via social media were both massive and effective.
All agree that the goals of those efforts were to produce results favorable to the election of Donald J. Trump and inimical to the cause of Hillary Clinton.
The Republican-chaired US Senate Intelligence Committee, concurred, with a bi-partisan vote.
Even Trump, his minions, and the Don Nunes-led House Committee have, at long last, agreed that the interventions took place.
Now, they persist only in denying the notion that Trump, his campaign officials, and family co-operated or encouraged the Russians in any way, despite well-documented public statements and writings to the contrary . . . from Trump, his family members, his legal team, and others with close ties to the President, his campaign, his businesses, and his person.
Given what we know already the question of whether or not the Russian “attacks” on our democracy constituted acts of “war” is important.
As Special Counsel Mueller and his team of investigators, led entirely by Republicans, continue, steadily and systematically, to produce indictments and convictions the question becomes even more important.
At present, it would seem, the Special Counsel’s final report may well produce a constitutional crisis.
In view of what we know now, and what we will know in the future, should we say, or could we reasonably say, the Russian attacks constituted an “Act of War?”
In the most general and often-used sense of the term, a “war” is sometimes, clearly, and often, not a “war.”
The “War on Drugs” or the “War on Crime” or even NYC “War on Rats” clearly wasn’t “wars” in the WW2 sense of the word.
But WAS the Russian attack, to paraphrase Clausewitz, “war by other means?”
He asserted that war itself was “the continuation of politics.” Is the inverse also true? Is it true in this case?
If it is, and it may well be, an important legal corollary arises.
“Adhering” to those who wage war against us and/or giving “aid and comfort to our enemies in a time of war constitutes treason.
The US Constitution devotes two pithy sentences to the term: “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.
At press time the notion that the President, members of his family, officials in his campaign and some of their agents may well have both “adhered” and given “aid and comfort” to Russia and its agents persists and gains credence.
More important, the notion that the Russia actions constituted a new 21st-century form of “warfare” has moved from being an extremist position to a serious accusation, levied even by members of the GOP, including at least one former congressman.
We doubt that a formal charge of “treason,” no matter how logical it might seem, would ever pass muster in the Congress or Courts.
That said, a stench arises from not only the Trump campaign’s publically documents efforts to conspire with Russians (and now we find with agents of other foreign powers) but its ongoing efforts to misuse Presidential power against Trump’s perceived “enemies.”
Did Trump and his cronies collude and conspire with enemies of the United States? Only time and the Special Counsel will tell.
Were those enemies waging “war?” Clausewitz and I would argue, Yes. Without question.