June 17, 2024

as the evidence

Today’s Events in Historical Perspective
America’s Longest-Running Column Founded 1932
Show us the evidence
By Douglas Cohn and Eleanor Clift
          WASHINGTON — Democrats are on a roll. Their chances of repelling the red tide and retaining control of the Senate have greatly improved. Losing the House to the GOP is no longer a foregone conclusion. The only thing standing in the way is the energy on the Right stirred up by the FBI search of Mar-A-Lago.
          The ex-president had a good primary night, watching his sworn foe, Liz Cheney, lose by 2-to-1 in Wyoming. The congresswoman and 1/6 committee co-chair went down not with a whimper, but with a bang, suggesting she might run for president in 2024. Anything she can do to stop Donald Trump from regaining power, she will do.
          She’s on a mission, and so is Trump. He leaked the names of two of the FBI agents involved in searching his Florida estate for classified documents. Those agents are now being harassed and receiving death threats.
          Trump is doing everything he can to raise the temperature among his followers. His latest gambit was to demand that the judge unseal the affidavit that authorized the search of his Florida home. This was clearly disingenuous, based upon the assumption that the judge would not comply.
          On the other side, the Justice Department opposed releasing the affidavit, arguing that it reveals sources and methods of investigation, and would compromise the case.
          While that is a valid argument from the perspective of a prosecutor, there is an equally valid argument to be made from the perspective of politics. In a country as divided as we are, nearly half the country refuses to accept that Trump may have committed serious crimes.
          If the contents of the affidavit were withheld, conspiracy theories would flourish and take root even more than they have. Not releasing it plays into Trump’s hands.
          The unexpected compromise reached by the judge is to redact those parts that are too revealing, so Trump is about to receive what he requested but did not want.
          FBI Director Wray is warning of political violence. Mass insurrection is not going to happen. The Far Right talks a big game, but they are in no position to raise an army. Incidents of violence against FBI agents and other government targets are likely to continue as some politicians on the Right take up the call to “Defund the FBI.”
          However, in the end, this is democracy at work. Democrats and Republicans are standing up and making their voices heard the way they did in Kansas. Voters in that very Republican state overwhelmingly supported a ballot initiative to reaffirm a woman’s right to an abortion in consultation with her family and her doctor.
          Now, it is on to the next act. Rep. Liz Cheney lost her primary while former GOP vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin advanced in Alaska and is likely to prevail to fulfill the remainder of the late Rep. Don Young’s House seat. Cheney loses her House seat but will still have a platform in her offensive against Trump while Palin gains a platform to extol all things Trump. His endorsement elevated her in a crowded field.
          Palin is not alone. Trump-backed candidates will make a lot of noise in their Fall campaigns, but will they ride that noise to victory? If history is a guide, extremists who win partisan primaries lose in the general election when the broader public is voting. Inflation is easing, gas prices are down, and job creation is booming. The only thing threatening to offset the good news is outrage over the search.
          So, redact if you will, judge, but only that which is absolutely necessary. Otherwise, show us the evidence.
          See Eleanor Clift’s latest book Selecting a President, and Douglas Cohn’s latest books The President’s First Year: The Only School for Presidents Is the Presidency and World War 4: Nine Scenarios (endorsed by seven flag officers).
          Twitter:  @douglas_cohn
          © 2022 U.S. News Syndicate, Inc.
          Distributed by U.S. News Syndicate, Inc.

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