A far-right-wing conservative commentator is calling on President Donald Trump to “sharpen the guillotines” against those he perceives to be his political enemies.
Josh Bernstein made the comments during his online television program following a press conference held by former special counsel Robert Mueller.
Mueller held the conference to announce his stepping down from his role in the Russia investigation, and to highlight key aspects of his report detailing how he was unable to definitively say that Trump hadn’t committed a crime.
“If we had confidence that the president clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so,” Mueller said on Wednesday.
Bernstein took issue with Mueller’s remarks, accusing him of being bribed by others to make them.
“How much were you paid to do that press conference?” Bernstein asked on his program, according to reporting from Right Wing Watch.
Bernstein went into a long-winded rant after that, going after Mueller and others he accused of being involved in the supposed “deep state” who are seeking to undermine the work of the Trump administration. His words encouraged violence on the part of the president, urging him to execute his opponents under the guise of treason.
Josh Bernstein calls on Trump to "sharpen up them guillotines" for use on his political enemies when he puts them to death for treason. https://t.co/IjOSDsbwnd
— Right Wing Watch (@RightWingWatch) May 31, 2019
“All of you are just disgusting, despicable excuses for human beings and, honestly, I hope you all go down,” Bernstein said. “Treason. President Trump said treason. Guess what? I agree with that. … You know what they do for treason? U.S. Code 18 § 2381. They put you to death, that’s what they do.”
Treason is indeed a federal crime for which death is a potential outcome. However, according to that statute, a person cannot be charged with treason simply for making critical statements against the commander-in-chief. Even if Bernstein’s half-baked accusations about Mueller were true, the treason statute would not be applicable.
According to Cornell Law School, the specific statute Bernstein cited reads:
“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, or shall be imprisoned not less than five years and fined under this title but not less than $10,000; and shall be incapable of holding any office under the United States.”
Nevertheless, Bernstein continued on in his rant, urging the death penalty against the president’s perceived opponents.
“Let’s sharpen up them guillotines, let’s bring out Old Sparky, let’s make sure that those lethal concoctions are ready to go, because you people deserve it,” Bernstein said.
The right-wing host isn’t the only person to get confused over what treason means and what it doesn’t. Trump himself has been confused over the issue as well, and as recently as last week called many individuals in the FBI treasonous.
“A number of people…have unsuccessfully tried to take down the wrong person,” Trump said, per reporting from NBC News.
“That’s treason,” he incorrectly stated. “They couldn’t win the election, and that’s what happened.”
At another point in his presidency, Trump also called Democrats in Congress treasonous — over refusing to stand up and applaud him during the 2018 State of the Union Address he gave.
“Can we call that treason? Why not! I mean they certainly didn’t seem to love our country very much,” Trump said at the time, CNBC reported.