To leak the memo was unbecoming conduct. It is worthy of censure. That does not make it a felony.
The ongoing Justice Department and congressional inquiries into the investigations attendant to the 2016 election are wide-ranging. In assessing investigative overreach, it is vital to remember that the remedy for politicized law enforcement is not more politicized law enforcement. If officials with a commendable record of service to the country took steps they should not have taken out of lapses in judgment — including lapses driven by overwrought suspicions of impending danger to the nation — then there needs to be an accounting. We will also need to implement better oversight procedures to insure against a repetition.
That, however, does not mean crimes were committed. The president’s fans should remember that their main complaint has been that Donald Trump and his campaign were treated as suspects in heinous, traitorous crimes despite the absence of credible incriminating evidence. The investigators, too, are entitled not to be presumed guilty of crimes, even by those of us who are convinced that there were investigative irregularities.
Let’s get the facts first, and then we can decide whether laws were broken, and whether there has been misconduct worthy of prosecution. And when we decide, let’s bear in mind that a norm against criminalizing political disputes cannot be reestablished unless we commit to reestablishing it. That means keeping the political vendettas out of the investigations.