Do the facts matter anymore?

The nation has been watching an epic battle between fact and fiction for more than a year. This week, with t...

Posted: Aug 27, 2018 4:35 AM
Updated: Aug 27, 2018 4:35 AM

The nation has been watching an epic battle between fact and fiction for more than a year. This week, with the major legal developments regarding Paul Manafort and Michael Cohen (President Donald Trump's former campaign manager and fixer, respectively) the power of facts dealt a serious blow to Trump's endless cries of "witch hunt."

With the convictions of Trump's associates starting to pile up and a Fox News poll showing an increase in approval of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation this month, it seems that the tide is turning against the President. For anyone who has given up on the belief that fact will win out in a political world with so much fiction, the reverberations from this week should provide a modicum of hope.

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Despite widespread hope that it will be wrapped up by midterm elections, the Russia investigation will heat up even more, and so will the battle between Trump and Mueller. The dichotomy of the two men's modi operandi couldn't be starker: Here is Trump using his bully pulpit to spin and twist the facts and create an alternative narrative. And here is Robert Mueller, the tough and quiet prosecutor who depends on the truth, laid bare through indictments and convictions, to speak for itself.

Although Mueller does not have the same massive platform as the President, or a passionate and loyal political base that will back him in any situation, he does have the capacity to shape public opinion through the report he will ultimately produce.

We don't yet know what Trump's relationship was to the Russian attack on the 2016 election, or how far he went to obstruct the Russia investigation -- and Democrats should pause before making any assumptions. But we are already seeing a pretty devastating portrait of the people the President has surrounded himself with. And Cohen's statement in the courtroom that he acted "in coordination and at the direction of a candidate for federal office," appears to indicate that Trump was willing to go beyond the boundaries of the law to win the presidency. Trump has denied wrongdoing.

As the Russia investigation enters its next phase and converges with midterm season, the country's immediate future will hinge on how the public interprets any revelations made public. Based on his own record, President Trump will work tirelessly to manipulate each part of this story to promote a narrative that vindicates him and impugns his critics.

Trump's statements indicate he is willing to bring down entire institutions to protect himself. His critics should not take the threat that he poses lightly; they should realize that in our current political world, the truth often doesn't win out. The President has already shown his capacity to shape national conversations with smears that have no basis in fact. He delegitimizes people, organizations and institutions by throwing political mud at the wall to see what will stick. Much of it does, and his base remains strong.

Nonetheless, President Trump and his ardent supporters should not be so sure this will work every time. If Mueller's report is damning to the President, it will offer the biggest counterpunch to the Trumpian world of spin. The legal damage in this investigation is already starting to mount, and --- even if Mueller's report does not come out before November -- Republicans will still very likely be the first to pay the price in the midterm elections.

If Democrats gain control of Congress in November and Mueller's report suggests that the President has committed high crimes and misdemeanors, the findings must be powerful enough to sway Democrats to move forward with impeachment and convince enough Senate Republicans to concur. If Republicans retain a slim majority in Congress, the report would somehow have to shake Republicans from their partisan loyalty and convince them to do something to constrain Trump.

Even if the President can survive a bad report from Mueller, it remains to be seen whether his capacity to sell his fans on the world he imagines will be enough to win him reelection in 2020.

Some people have recently been wearing T-shirts that read "It's Mueller Time." Well, the verdict will be out soon and we'll see then how many more people will be sporting that phrase.

Soon we'll know how much our political world has been broken and whether there is any hope for regaining normality -- and returning to a nation where facts actually matter.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

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Confirmed Cases: 22464

Reported Deaths: 942
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hennepin7540565
Ramsey2610103
Stearns198412
Nobles14883
Anoka126259
Dakota118244
Olmsted57510
Washington56230
Kandiyohi4751
Rice4112
Clay40625
Scott3792
Todd2960
Wright2691
Sherburne2192
Mower2161
Carver1852
Benton1692
Steele1480
Martin1265
Blue Earth1221
St. Louis11513
Freeborn970
Pine850
Winona7815
Nicollet747
Carlton730
Cottonwood650
Otter Tail620
Unassigned6110
Goodhue603
Watonwan590
Polk592
Crow Wing571
Itasca537
Chisago501
Dodge460
Chippewa441
Meeker440
Le Sueur431
Morrison400
Douglas390
Jackson390
Becker370
Murray360
Lyon360
Isanti330
McLeod290
Waseca240
Rock210
Swift170
Pennington170
Mille Lacs171
Fillmore171
Wabasha170
Brown142
Faribault130
Beltrami130
Sibley130
Cass122
Norman110
Wilkin113
Kanabec111
Pipestone100
Marshall90
Pope80
Wadena80
Aitkin70
Koochiching70
Yellow Medicine60
Lincoln50
Renville50
Mahnomen51
Red Lake40
Traverse30
Big Stone30
Clearwater30
Redwood30
Grant30
Lac qui Parle30
Houston20
Lake10
Hubbard10
Roseau10
Kittson10

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 18342

Reported Deaths: 496
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Polk3876115
Woodbury265831
Black Hawk171343
Linn93876
Marshall87815
Dallas87317
Buena Vista6820
Johnson6058
Muscatine54741
Wapello5384
Crawford4882
Tama40026
Scott34610
Louisa33610
Dubuque33016
Jasper25716
Pottawattamie2277
Sioux2100
Washington1858
Wright1240
Allamakee1194
Plymouth1191
Warren1140
Story961
Poweshiek888
Mahaska888
Bremer676
Henry671
Clinton601
Des Moines581
Boone560
Taylor480
Cedar461
Guthrie443
Clarke400
Benton391
Jones360
Iowa360
Monroe354
Shelby350
Clayton313
Buchanan310
Osceola310
Marion300
Webster291
Hamilton280
Madison261
Fayette260
Monona240
Lee230
Cherokee230
Winneshiek230
Cerro Gordo221
Davis200
Jefferson190
Harrison190
Lyon190
Grundy190
Floyd181
Sac170
Mills160
Hardin150
Butler150
Delaware150
Humboldt140
Ida140
Keokuk140
Hancock140
Appanoose133
Jackson130
Dickinson130
Clay130
Greene130
Howard120
Audubon121
Winnebago110
Cass110
Page100
Van Buren90
Franklin90
Carroll90
Pocahontas90
Chickasaw80
Emmet80
Unassigned80
Kossuth80
Adair70
Adams70
Lucas70
Union60
Montgomery60
Mitchell50
Ringgold40
Fremont40
Palo Alto30
Worth30
Calhoun20
Decatur10
Wayne10
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