We must not rush

While the Mueller investigation proceeds, the public does not know whether there was collusion. Despite polls that show a strong desire to end the investigation, justice and the security of our nation’s future require that it come to an end only when the work is complete. Public opinion must not guide the conduct of investigations into criminal or constitutional violations. Every American has a vested interest in wanting all investigative and any subsequent trials to go forward to the full extent necessary to assure that we remain a country ruled through law.

Russian interference in the American election process was an invasion, and we should treat it as such. Our national response is the responsibility of the officials we have elected and the people they have chosen to assist them. They either have the facts, or they must gather them. They are privy to information to which we, the public, are not privy. Public opinion is the wrong way to determine the appropriate national response to invasion.

The same is true of suspicions and allegations of collusion with the invaders. They must be investigated by the appropriate officials, however long it takes to complete. Public opinion is a precarious way of determining the length of time the investigation should take, or what the outcome will be.

We should remember with trepidation the years between 1947 and the collapse of the Soviet Union. We shuddered at the threat looming over us of annihilation by atomic and then the hydrogen bomb. We also shuddered when Senator Joseph McCarthy and others warned that Communists and their sympathizers had and were infiltrating our government.

We were taught to fear the subversives working to facilitate a takeover of our magnificent land of the free. A takeover by people who hated freedom, who hated religion and would make us slaves of the State. Our fear had a name, and it was Communism, and Russia personified it. The formal name was the Union of Soviet Socialists Republics, but Russia was the name everyone knew.

The Soviet Union is no more, and an oligarchy has replaced communism in Russia. Russia may no longer want to destroy or enslave us to their ideal of communism, but the leaders in Russia have not lessened their desire to destabilize our government. Today they have different, less deadly but more powerful tools, and a more powerful reason: economics.

Smart rulers do not attack a superior military force. They use intelligence to achieve their goals—both secretive spy-oriented information gathering intelligence, and the intelligence that recognizes the value of understanding history and politics and how money works—all of which fewer and fewer people know about, and fewer and fewer Americans are willing to invest the time and effort to learn.

The Russians have used intelligence to attempt to disrupt how our government functions, by distracting our attention and affecting our confidence in the electoral system. If people lose confidence in elections, they will lose confidence and trust in government, including law enforcement. It is a simple concept.

There are two issues: Did the Russians interfere? And did any Americans do anything to help them?

Today, there appears to be general agreement that the Russians did attempt to influence the 2016 election. That is a critical issue for the future of our country. It cannot be ignored and to make it partisan puts our future stability at risk. From the first, indications of interference or possible collusion should have been a matter for our intelligence and defense agencies, not political parties.

Proof as to whether the Russians had any preference in the election outcome or if there was collusion may or may not exist, but most ordinary citizens do not have access to it. The question certainly is a legitimate matter for news media. But individual opinion —and by extension public opinion— is swayed (intentionally or not) by the news sources individuals trust most. Every attempt to make the investigation partisan contributes further to the success of the Russian effort to divide and destabilize our government and our economy.

We have spent untold investigative and broadcast hours and tons of print on the question of collusion with the Russians. We have intelligence and law enforcement agencies to investigate those matters and to prosecute where appropriate. If we are to retain any trust in our government, we must insist on completeness and accuracy in the investigations. Such investigations often take a long, long time. For the layman, and for politicians, they often take far too long, especially when the elections draw near.

Recent indictments and pleas may indicate the probability of collusion with Russian agents, but it is still an unresolved question. If history teaches anything, it is that self-serving and partisan—even presidential— allegations and denials mean nothing.

We must not rush. There is too much at stake.

by Ken Reynolds