Friday, May 12, 2017

NOW IT'S ABOUT MUCH MORE THAN TRUMP AND RUSSIA --- It's about which will prevail: Truth—or Power.

Mother reports, “For a while there, it almost seemed as if President Donald Trump's determined efforts to redirect attention from the Russia scandal were starting to work. The White House had pushed back against every attempt to investigate, and congressional Republicans, from the soap-opera-worthy antics of the House's Devin Nunes to the slow-walking slow-walking of the Senate's Richard Burr, were going along. Democrats had their hair on fire about health care, and a big tax-cut showdown was looming.

And then Trump fired the FBI director—and made it plain for everyone that the Russia story really does represent a serious threat to American democracy. Because now it's no longer just about how exactly the Kremlin interfered in the 2016 election, or whether Trump or his associates merely winked and nodded or actively colluded. It's about whether the public's right to know the truth is stronger than a powerful man's burning desire to keep it hidden.

For many decades, from Teapot Dome to Watergate to Lewinskygate, the answer to that question has been, ultimately: yes. Yes, the people deserve to know; yes, political advantage must yield to the search for truth. It is essential that the answer, this time, be the same. As Dan Rather—a man who has watched many administrations try to lie to the public—put it, the alternative is "Armageddon for our form of government." 

To be clear: We can't, and shouldn't, assume that where there's smoke, there's fire. But at this point, that doesn't matter. What Trump or any of his associates did in 2016 may or may not have been a scandal, but blocking the public from finding out most definitely is. Trump may turn out to have overreached with the Comey firing, prompting the kind of independent inquiry he was so desperate to avoid. But it's evident that Republicans on Capitol Hill—terrified of what such a probe would do to their agenda and their electoral prospects—will do everything they can to avoid going there.

That means it's up to the public—all of us—to make sure truth prevails over power. There are many ways of doing that, from showing up at town halls to calmly reasoning with friends or relatives. For us, as journalists, the call to action is an especially urgent one: We need to deploy every skill we've learned, from shoe-leather reporting to data dives. We need to go deep, stick with the story no matter where it leads, and resist getting tangled in conventional wisdom or distracted by sideshows.

Mother Jones was born out of a similar moment, in the post-Watergate years when it became clear that the public needed independent watchdogs. Going after what powerful people want hidden is what we exist to do. We did it in 2012, when David Corn revealed the story of Mitt Romney's 47 percent remarks; we did it last year, when Shane Bauer reported on his time as a guard inside a private prision. We are scrupulous in our fact-checking, and in protecting our sources, too. (Whistleblowers take note: You can send us secure messages on Signal at (202) 809-1049, or email us at

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