Saturday, May 20, 2017

Long Road Ahead

So a special counsel has been appointed to continue the Russia investigation. People on both sides of the political continuum are pretty happy about this (after all, 78% of Americans in a recent poll were in support of this) - people who believe Trump is innocent of any wrongdoing can depend on the investigation to exonerate him, while people who believe Trump is guilty can finally move one step closer to removal from office.

But it's liable to be years before anything definitive comes out of this investigation. Clare Malone at FiveThirtyEight sat down with political scientist, Brandon Rottinghaus, to discuss the history of political scandals and when this particular investigation might end:
Number one, the president is insulated politically so that it’s hard to get the president’s staff and counsels to turn on the president.

Number two, presidents are often insulated legally; they have the ability to do a lot of things that staff or Cabinet members aren’t able to do.

The third thing is that independent counsels, special counsels and any other investigatory bodies are reluctant to challenge the president in a way that might lead to impeachment for fear that it looks like a non-democratic outcome to the legal process. Although obviously these things run into partisanship very quickly, people are less willing to remove a president unless the crisis is severe and the implications are egregious.

[Y]our standard investigation, even of a person who’s a Cabinet member or staff member, is probably between two and three years. For a president in particular, it tends to be longer because the amount of care to be taken is greater.
Regardless of how long the process will take, the fact that an investigation is underway will still have an impact on the current administration, long before any results are shared:
[T]hese kind of events often lead to legislative paralysis, and if you’re not producing legislation, the public tends to take it out on the incumbent party, especially the president. So it’s a kind of double whammy for presidents looking to keep those approval ratings above water.
It's a long road ahead:

This gorgeous photo is by photographer Glenn Nagel

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