Remember when Rosie O'Donnell was going to be the end of President Trump? Then, it was John McCain. And then Khizr Khan and the Access Hollywood tape and the Russian dossier and the Mika/Joe tweetstorm.
All of that should have brought down President Trump, at least in the eyes of the Left. None of it has. But hope sprang anew earlier this week when it was discovered Donald Trump Jr. had met with a Russian lawyer who offered dirt on Hillary Clinton.
Trump Jr. promptly turned over the entire email chain he had on the affair, and the press has since had a field day finding people to make ever more ludicrous claims about his possible legal exposure.
It's clearly collusion, some said — although collusion is not exactly a crime. It's an illegal campaign contribution, said others — although nothing of value was given.
It's a Logan Act violation, said others, referring to the 1799 law that makes it a crime for citizens to intervene in disputes with foreign governments and has never been used to prosecute anyone.
It could even be conspiracy to defraud, said one Vermont law professor, Jennifer Taub, because Trump Jr. went to a meeting to hear evidence that someone else may have committed a crime … against the United States.
To all of which Tim Kaine, perhaps the worst vice presidential candidate in modern times, accused Trump Jr. of treason — of working against the interests of the U.S. and for the interests of a foreign power.
That's right – a 20-minute meeting, ultimately about nothing, with a Russian lawyer who promised dirt on the opponent in a charged political atmosphere is supposedly not just a technical violation of some obscure campaign regulation. It is treason, with punishments ranging up to the death penalty.
There have been some rough moments as President Trump and his team have grown into their jobs, and even Trump Jr. admits he would have done some things differently. But treason? Collusion? Conspiracy to defraud?
Many in the media want these to be crimes — so badly, according to Rush Limbaugh, they are losing their minds in trying to find some way to force the president from office.
This is not it. Not only did Trump Jr. not commit treason by taking the meeting with the Russian lawyer, but he probably committed no crime at all. And that would hold even if the Russian lawyer had provided useful information, which she didn't.
Jonathan Turley, a liberal professor of constitutional law at George Washington University, said so. "Does any of this constitute a clear crime or even a vague inkblot image of a crime?" Turley asked in an op-ed in The Hill. "No, at least not on these facts."
Alan Dershowitz, another liberal lawyer, agreed. "I don't see a crime at this point in time," he told Newsmax. And that's true even if the information was obtained illegally, he said.
That's how the Washington Post and New York Times were able to publish the Pentagon Papers, as well as information from Edward Snowden and Bradley Manning, he said.
Turley and law professor Eugene Volokh, author of the well-respected Volokh Conspiracy law blog, pointed to the obvious problem with prosecuting anyone for what Trump Jr. did. None of the laws detractors want to use against Trump Jr. could be enforced without serious First Amendment implications.
It's illegal for foreign governments to provide a "thing of value" to a federal campaign, but can information be considered a thing of value? That's the key question for both Volokh and Turley. And both say no — or no foreign government or individual could provide any damaging evidence on any federal candidate.
Under this reading, if a foreign person or government offered damaging information on Trump to The New York Times, the paper would be bound by law to either decline or pay for the information — checkbook journalism has its own substantial set of problems.
And if some aggrieved business across the globe wanted to share the dirt on its unhappy dealings with Trump's companies, it would be illegal for us to hear about this.
In other words, the statute is so "unconstitutionally over-broad" that it "ought to be read as not covering such distribution or solicitation of damaging information about a candidate."
There are clearly double standards at work here. How did the Hillary Clinton campaign find out about the foreign beauty contest winner Trump had supposedly "fat-shamed"? How did it find out Paul Manafort, Trump's former campaign manager, had Russia ties? What about the information the Russian lawyer offered — it was about Hillary's ties to the Russian government? Is that not worth looking into? And how did she get in the country for this meeting in the first place?
Trump continues to be blessed with overreaching, overzealous, and imprudent political enemies. Every blip is The One. Every act is high treason with articles of impeachment to follow.
People can see what's going on here. They have tuned out the Russia allegations — this entire Trump Jr. episode never even trended on Twitter. And until Democrats get serious or at least a bit more measured in their treatment of the president, they're not going to make a dent.
Ford O'Connell (@Ford Connell) is a contributor to the Washington Examiner's Beltway Confidential blog. He is an adjunct professor at The George Washington University Graduate School of Political Management, worked on John McCain's 2008 presidential campaign, and authored the book "Hail Mary: The 10-Step Playbook for Republican Recovery."
If you would like to write an op-ed for the Washington Examiner, please read our guidelines on submissions here.