Former U.S. attorney Preet Bharara on Friday night pushed back against late-night host Bill Maher’s reference of President Donald Trump as a traitor.
“The words ‘treason’ and ‘traitor’ have particular legal meaning.” Bharara said. “Maybe I’m an overly careful recent legal prosecutor. The worry I have sometimes just as a private citizen now… is you could subject yourself to criticism if you are sort of overstating, and I’m not saying you necessarily are, but when you’re overstating what other people have done. And it allows folks to be dismissed a little bit more out of hand when people yell ‘treachery’ and ‘treason.'”
Maher and Bharara were discussing the Trump team’s handling of the ongoing Russia probe by special counsel Robert Mueller.
Maher started out by askisng Bharara his thoughts on Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani and the whole Republican Party, to which Bharara replied that those were “two separate questions.”
“Well, they’re both enablers for a traitor,” Maher said in response, eliciting applause from the crowd. “What’s the difference?”
Bharara said Giuliani is “supposed to be a professional lawyer … in recent times I think he’s taken on an aura of someone who doesn’t remember what the truth is, doesn’t remember what he said about issuance of subpoenas 20 years earlier, who doesn’t remember that the people he used to work who helped save New York and find the bad guys – he now calls them storm troopers because he’s trying to protect the president.”
When Maher asked why Bharara looked uncomfortable when he referred to Trump as a traitor, Bharara responded that Trump was “leading a corrupt government" and that he would continue to be a vocal critic of the president.
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