The damage done could last a long time

Law enforcement, media changed standards for Trump. Byron York – “One of the more unfortunate effects of the Trump-Russia investigation — and there have been many — is the weakening of traditional standards of argument and proof in the public debate over allegations that the Trump campaign conspired with Russia to fix the 2016 election. (Just for the record: It didn’t.)

“In particular, angry disputes about the president have done terrible harm to the principle that an investigator, be it a journalist or a prosecutor, should meet at least some standard of proof before leveling an accusation.

Without evidence to prove any of the dossier’s most serious allegations, a new standard of proof emerged: The allegations were legitimate because they had not been proven untrue.

Leading figures in politics and journalism adopted the new standard.

The new Trump standard turned the old standard — can an allegation be proven true? — on its head.

Mueller, like Feinstein and Tribe and Todd before him, changed widely accepted standards, casting the shadow of guilt on Trump without formally accusing him of wrongdoing. Except Mueller, unlike the senator, the law professor, and the journalist, wielded the prosecutorial power of the United States. Given the length and thoroughness of his investigation, Mueller’s no-exoneration verdict carried a lot of weight in the public debate. Except that it didn’t mean anything, while at the same time suggesting to the public that the president had committed some unspecified offense.

Trump’s critics often accuse him of violating the norms that make our society and government work. Yet in their discussion of the dossier, some of those critics violated essential norms of fairness and accuracy. And in Mueller’s no-exoneration gambit, a storied figure in American law enforcement abandoned one of the most important standards of justice. The damage done could last a long time.

A new standard of proof has emerged.

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