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Bill Weld Has Jarring Idea for Trump Punishment

'The penalty for treason under the US code is death,' says 2020 GOP challenger
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 23, 2019 12:16 PM CDT
Bill Weld Has Jarring Idea for Trump Punishment
President Trump gestures as he disembarks Air Force One upon arrival at Wheeling, W.Va., Wednesday, July 24, 2019.   (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

(Newser) – President Trump's Democratic critics are calling for impeachment over the Ukraine controversy, but a Republican critic just outdid them by a mile. Former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld, who is challenging Trump for the GOP nomination, weighed in on the subject during the Morning Joe program and raised the idea of the death penalty, reports Mediaite. "Pressuring a foreign country to interfere with and control a US election" is treason, said Weld. "And the penalty for treason under the US code is death." Weld also said that, under the Constitution, the penalty for treason is removal from office, and "that might look like a pretty good alternative to the president if he can work out a plea deal.” Weld brought up the penalty issue unprompted, then doubled down when pressed, notes Mediaite. Related coverage:

  • No guarantee: Rudy Giuliani denied on Fox Monday that Trump threatened to withhold aid to Ukraine unless the nation investigated Joe Biden's son Hunter. But when pressed, Guiliani couldn't guarantee it, reports the Hill. “Did the president threaten to cut off aid to the Ukraine,” asked Fox's Maria Bartiromo. “No, no that was a false story,” said Giuliani. "One hundred percent?” asked Giuliani. “Well, I can’t tell you if it’s 100%,” said Giuliani.

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  • Impeachment? Trump's acknowledgment that he spoke about the Bidens with Ukraine's leader has poured "rocket fire on the impeachment fire," per the Playbook blog at Politico. It sees Nancy Pelosi's demand over the weekend that the White House release the whistleblower's report about Trump's call as an important warning shot. Trump insists he did nothing wrong in the call, saying the conversation was in the context of the nation's corruption trouble. (Backgound here.)
  • The laws: The Washington Post has an analysis on what laws Trump might have bent or broken with his call. "If a crime was committed in the Ukraine matter, legal scholars say, it may have been a violation of laws that prohibit bribery, bar Americans from seeking to influence foreign officials, and ban foreign involvement in US election campaigns." But Trump can't be indicted as a sitting president, the piece notes, meaning this matter might ultimately be decided by voters, not the courts.
  • In Trump's defense: "If Trump felt that Zelensky needed to be pushed to do the right thing and clean up corruption in his country, then so be it," writes Karen Townsend at Hot Air. Let Democrats move ahead with impeachment, which she thinks will fail. And Trump should not release the phone transcript. "Why would any world leader speak candidly to him in future conversations if he does so?"
  • More from Weld: “We’ve got treason," he said. "And we don’t have to dribble around the court. We can go right for the hoop. It’s well past time for this guy, in my opinion, to be carted off to save us all. He’s daring us all to let him be totally lawless."
  • The latest from Trump: The POTUS blasted both the whistleblower and Biden later Monday; see what he had to say here.
(Read more President Trump stories.)

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