What would it mean if either or both of these things could be proved and a conviction secured? For Trump, it is easy to imagine an entire year on the campaign trail spent denouncing the numberless iniquities of some rando FBI agent, who will be presented as if he were the Palpatine-like mastermind behind a vast and rather sinister conspiracy to undermine the administration and the republic itself. He will spend 20 minutes rehearsing the details in Ohio and Pennsylvania; the crowds will shout “TREASON! TREASON!” or “LOCK THEM UP!” or “COMPLYING WITH FEDERAL INVESTIGATIONS IS A CONSTITUTIONAL DUTY, YOU GODLESS COMMIES!” or some such. A splendid time for all, I’m sure.

Meanwhile, Democrats will be able to follow the template established for them by Republicans in recent months. These, we will be told, are insignificant crimes in themselves, ones that would not have been prosecuted in the first place if their opponents were not grossly abusing their authority by carrying out a pointless investigation of things that happened four years ago now. Who cares what a few meaningless bunglers were or were not getting up to? All of this is a distraction from the real issue, which is the unspeakable corruption of Trump and his cronies, who are using the present inquiry as a smokescreen.

Both of these competing narratives — which are not really mutually exclusive — would find cheerleaders in the relevant corners of the media. The journalists who have spent Trump’s entire first term discussing the sacrosanct nature of federal probes would explain away the casual nature of the offenses; the president’s fans would insist that nothing could be more appalling than — gasp — lying to a bona fide Justice Department investigator.