Profound US political crisis

Charles Lipson writes at RealClear Politics about the political and legal problems in the US in Why America’s Political Crisis Is So Profound (this post follows on from Each political side sincerely believes).

If both sides trusted the government’s standard procedures to investigate and prosecute crimes, these disputes could be sorted out in the normal way.

Alas, nobody does.

Republicans considered Attorneys General Eric Holder and Loretta Lynch little more than Democratic Party lapdogs trained to ignore misconduct by Obama’s White House and Hillary Clinton’s campaign.

Democrats managed to get the current AG, Jeff Sessions, to recuse himself from the department’s biggest case.

Everything James Comey said in 2016 and 2017, when he headed the FBI, was refracted through a partisan lens.

As a consequence, the reputations of Congress, the FBI, and the Department of Justice lie in ruins.

Along with the reputations of the republican and Democrat parties.

How serious do professionals think the crisis is? The best indicator is the unprecedented scale of leaking, especially of highly secret information. My conclusion: Many professionals in the intelligence community and the Justice Department—and perhaps some inside the Trump administration itself—believe that this president is doing things that endanger the country.

They are not leaking for the usual reason—to favor their policy. They are leaking as a patriotic duty.

I’m sure some of the leaking is for purely political and power broking purposes, and some will be out of spite, but that’s business as usual and the degree and type of leaks currently happening go much further than normal, so could well be out of a genuine belief in having a patriotic duty to do so. The consequences are significant, both for the US and for the individual leakers if they are prosecuted.

On the other side, Trump’s people think a “deep state” is pushing back, trying to destroy an outsider who came to Washington to change things. What they see is an unconstitutional effort to drive a duly-elected president out of office. These entrenched interests are essentially committed to pulling off a coup d’état.

Some will genuinely believe in a “deep state” conspiracy.I think things are much more complex.

In this dark tangle, there are two bright spots. One is the bipartisan collaboration between Sens. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) and Mark Warner (D-Va.), who are leading the Senate investigation into Russian interference. If they can ultimately produce a report signed by both sides, they will go a long way to restoring confidence in government.

I’m not sure about this. Beliefs are so entrenched that it’s hard to see any outcome satisfying everyone and settling the rancour and restoring some confidence – confidence in the White House, Senate and Congress may be irreparably damaged.

The other is Robert Mueller’s appointment as a special counsel for the Justice Department. The former head of the FBI is an experienced, non-partisan investigator. Although his record handling high-profile investigations is hardly flawless, his integrity is unquestioned by either side. However, as many observed, there are cautionary examples indicating how easy it is for special prosecutors to overreach. The investigations last too long, go off on tangents, or reach for an easy trophy to display.

Mueller knows those dangers and, hopefully, can avoid them. He is not only a true, independent professional, he’s the only person with the stature to actually clear the president and his closest aides if they are innocent. It is crucial he move quickly, despite the complexity of the case, because the charges themselves are paralyzing Washington.

Mueller may be seen as genuinely non-partisan, but any outcome of the investigation he leads is unlikely to satisfy everyone. Partisans are likely to see a problem with any non-favourable outcome.

And after the investigation Donald Trump will almost certainly still be president. Unless there is a profound change in how he and his administration conducts itself, and unless there is a profound change in the degree and size of the partisan, I think the profound crisis in America will continue.

4 Comments

  1. Joe Bloggs

     /  May 31, 2017

    Leaking is clearly an issue when trump leaks top secret info to Kislyak and the locations of nuclear subs to Duterte.

  2. Joe Bloggs

     /  May 31, 2017

    And in today’s fake news trumps PR chief abruptly resigns. Long overdue. Clearly bigly crap at his job given the PR disaster in the Oval Office

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/world/news/article.cfm?c_id=2&objectid=11866532

  3. Gezza

     /  May 31, 2017

    Sean Spicer demolishes the fake newsers before he runs off into the wings. 👍

  4. Joe Bloggs

     /  May 31, 2017

    I have but a single word to add on this matter: covfefe

    Just…. covfefe