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- Former FBI Director James Comey and former CIA Director John Brennan have not been charged with treason.
Are the former head of the CIA and former FBI director both charged with treason?
That’s what a recent Facebook post alleges without any evidence: "I’m hearing that James Comey has 50 counts of TREASON," the post says. "And John Brennan has 48 counts of TREASON."
The post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)
This isn’t the first time we’ve heard something like this — President Donald Trump has set his sights on the former agency heads, and so have his advisers. In June 2019, Roger Stone, one of Trump’s longtime confidants, called for former CIA director John Brennan to be "hung for treason."
Stone was later found guilty of witness tampering and lying to Congress in connection with special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into possible ties between the Trump campaign and Russia. But he’s not the only Republican who has criticized both Brennan and former FBI director James Comey for the inquiry.
But neither Comey nor Brennan have been charged with treason. Here’s what we know.
In December, the New York Times reported that federal prosecutor John Durham was investigating the role Brennan played in the intelligence community’s assessment that Russia interfered with the 2016 election.
Durham had requested Brennan’s emails, call logs and other documents because he wanted to learn what Brennan told other officials, including Comey, about his and the CIA’s views on a dossier of claims about Trump associates and Russia, according to the New York Times.
Neither Brennan nor Comey have been indicted. News that the men were facing multiple counts of treason charges would draw wide media coverage, but there are no news stories to corroborate the Facebook post’s claims.
In August, Durham questioned Brennan for eight hours. Afterward, an aide for Brennan said Durham told Brennan during that interview that Brennan isn’t the target of any criminal inquiry as part of the justice department’s examination of the Russia investigation, according to the Times.
Finally, there is a high bar for charging someone with treason. The Constitution — which mentions very few crimes specifically — defines treason very narrowly. It says that treason can only consist in "levying war" against the country or giving "aid and comfort" to enemies. "No person shall be convicted of treason unless on the testimony of two witnesses to the same overt act, or on confession in open court," according to the Constitution.
On the most basic level, treason has to occur in wartime, or during an armed rebellion against the government.
We rate this Facebook post False.
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Facebook post, Sept. 14, 2020
The Associated Press, Roger Stone guilty of witness tampering, lying to Congress, Nov. 15, 2019
PolitiFact, All of the people facing charges from Mueller’s investigation into Russian meddling, March 25, 2019
The New York Times, Durham is scrutinizing ex-C.I.A. director’s role in Russian interference findings, Dec. 19, 2019
The New York Times, Justice Dept. questions former CIA director for 8 hours, Aug. 21, 2020
The Washington Post, The feds keep arresting people close to Trump rather than those he wants them to, Aug. 20, 2020
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