The Corner

National Security & Defense

Stop the Dumb, Binary Thinking About the Russia Investigation

As I wrote in a piece on the homepage, if you follow the online battles over the Russia investigation, the debate is devolving into two competing, absolutist narratives. Either a GOP president stole an election in part by cooperating with a hostile foreign power and then obstructed justice to stay in office, or a partisan “deep state” is unlawfully cooperating with Democratic activists (and even colluding with their own Russian friends) to unseat Donald Trump. Both sides are yearning for the moment when the truth is revealed, the real agendas are laid bare, and the worse-than-Watergate scandal is uncovered in all its slimy glory.

There’s another option. Indeed I’d even say this the most likely option. We’ll call it double Watergate. In other words, both sides are at least a little bit terrible. Investigations begun with corrupt motives and poor information can discover true wrongdoing. Righteous indignation at unfair investigations can transform into unlawful obstruction. We could reach a point where Robert Mueller uncovers credible evidence of actual unlawful obstruction of justice of an investigation that began for partisan reasons and uncovers no meaningful Russian collusion. Over at the Daily Wire, Ben Shapiro outlines six different scenarios, all supported by varying degrees of evidence. There are more. 

Writing below, Jonah quite reasonably argues that we should “wait and see” before launching into FBI conspiracies. It’s sound advice that applies to both sides. The only modification I’d make is to ask the Trump administration and the Mueller team to do what they reasonably can to minimize how much longer we have to wait before we can see. That means more transparency, sooner. Release the memo. Release the evidence supporting the memo’s conclusions. Release the FISA applications. Make only the most minimal and necessary redactions.

This week the political temperature was turned up once again. Anger and distrust — already dangerous — is escalating. As the truth is delayed, our political culture becomes more frayed and fragile. Each day it gets worse. The American people can certainly handle the truth, but the system can handle it better sooner rather than later. It’s time for transparency. 



David French is a senior writer for National Review, a senior fellow at the National Review Institute, and a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

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