Donald Trump has often had harsh words for his critics, even calling them “un-American,” but on Monday, he ratcheted that up significantly while talking about the State of the Union during an appearance in Ohio.
“You’re up there, you’ve got half the room going totally crazy, wild—they loved everything, they want to do something great for our country. And you have the other side, even on positive news—really positive news, like that—they were like death and un-American. Un-American,” the president said. “Somebody said, ‘treasonous.’ I mean, yeah, I guess, why not? Can we call that treason? Why not? I mean, they certainly didn’t seem to love our country very much.”
Spoiler alert: We cannot call that treason.
There is a legal definition for this, and dourly refusing to clap during a partisan speech isn’t covered. The State of the Union was supposed to be Trump’s bipartisan moment in which he reached across the aisle. Apparently that effort stopped the moment he concluded the speech, if not earlier, since literally calling your political opponents traitors is perhaps the least bipartisan step one can take in a two-party system.
One wonders who the “somebody” who Trump cited was; at times, “somebody” is his proxy for an idea that he came up with (cf. “many people are saying”), while at other times it’s shorthand for something he saw on Fox and Friends or Twitter. It’s a decent bet in this case that somebody was Trump himself, because it’s not the first time recently he’s made a similar charge. In January, speaking to The Wall Street Journal, he attacked Peter Strzok, an FBI agent who wrote texts (not tweets, as Trump said) critical of him.