Durham’s history term paper fails to produce any justice
John Durham, the special counsel appointed by then-President Donald Trump back in October 2020 to examine the origins of the claims that Russia had somehow involved itself in the 2016 election, finally closed up shop a couple of weeks ago.
On his way out the door, he wrote a 300-page report that was pretty much a retread of what we already knew: The FBI was so eager to alter the results of the 2016 election that when it failed to find evidence of criminality on the part of the Trump campaign, it went out and created some.
All good as far as it goes, but a history term paper is not what special counsels are supposed to produce. They are supposed to produce justice and some intermediate steps — indictments, trials, perhaps jail time for miscreants — in that direction.
None of that happened here.
It is probably not fair to blame Mr. Durham for the failure. The simple reality is that special counsels never come up with much in the way of trials and convictions. Think about Ken Starr, Robert Mueller or John Danforth. It is always the same. Lots of noise and drama eventually decays into bureaucratic inertia and then results in a report or two. but not much in the way of prosecutorial achievement.
Perhaps they are designed that way. Maybe they are simply a mechanism for the Justice Department to avoid doing its job until everyone is looking the other way.
Or — and this seems more likely — special counsels and special prosecutors are simply good examples of how the federal government works in reality. Whatever it is you want — more wheat, a more secure world, more prosperity, justice, whatever — allowing or encouraging the federal government to provide it for you is the wrong avenue because whatever it is you ask the federal government to do, it usually provides the exact opposite.
The great economist Milton Friedman once said that if you put the federal government in charge of the Sahara for five years, there would be a shortage of sand.
In this instance, we are seeking speedy justice for a system that — whatever you think about the target — committed numerous misdeeds. We’ve already been waiting seven years and seem no closer to the finish line. After all these years, and despite (or perhaps because of) a special counsel, we have a shortage of justice.
This government — irrespective of which party supposedly controls it — can’t balance a budget, win wars, secure the border, incarcerate criminals, administer justice, solve the scourge of illegal drugs, educate children, avoid creating inflation, or do pretty much anything else that one might expect from a government. None of those failures seem to slow its desire to take your money, kill foreigners, spy on you, confiscate your guns, or ban cars, trucks, gas stoves or free speech.
That is the real lesson of Mr. Durham’s underperformance. If you are looking for salvation or even help from the federal government, you are looking in the wrong place.
• Michael McKenna, a columnist for The Washington Times, is president of MWR Strategies. He was most recently a deputy assistant to the president and deputy director of the Office of Legislative Affairs at the White House. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.