A common tactic by criminal defense attorneys is to turn the tables on the government — to put the prosecution on trial. They might suggest in their cross-examinations that the investigators were biased or that they rushed to judgment. If defense counsel can discredit the prosecution in the eyes of the jury, then their client might walk.
The same strategy seems to be at play in recent investigations into the work of the Department of Justice. To be sure, government agencies should be subject to oversight, and any wrongdoers should be held accountable. But an investigation designed solely to discredit a government agency is an affront to the rule of law. A baseless investigation, at best, causes people to shake their heads at the ugliness of politics. At worst, it undermines public confidence in the integrity of government itself. And if the people believe that everyone in government is corrupt, then government loses its ability to enforce the law.
Take, for instance, the newly-formed House Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government. The name, as we would say in court, presumes facts not in evidence. No matter. The name is part of the false narrative that the federal government is being used to target conservatives for investigation. The subcommittee’s Chairman, Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), has compared the body to the well-regarded Church Committee, which investigated abuses of the intelligence community that led to reforms in the 1970s. So far, Jordan’s subcommittee looks less like the Church Committee and more like the altar of deception.