The limitations of getting the facts

I have written that investigators are doing the best job of just about anyone at responding to the January 2021 Capitol putsch. I find Marcy Wheeler, and her rebuttals to many particular complaints about the Department of Justice, very credible.

I think that no outcome of even the most successful investigation is, by itself, going to save America’s democracy. I also think that the standard for “getting the facts,” “establishing beyond reasonable doubt,” etc., as applied to so many things seems much like a mirage, forever visible on the horizon but never actually closer no matter how far you go in its direction.

Republicans’ effort to pressure Georgia’s election officials into fraud, more than a year ago, seem like an illustration verging on caricature of this reality.

Trump’s telephone harangue of Brad Raffensperger on January 2 seems like it amounted to illegal solicitation of election fraud, or else nothing ever could. But more to the point the phone call lasted one hour. The whole call was recorded, and published almost immediately. How much time can you spend investigating a one-hour conversation?

I have gone looking for answers. I have found some writing which addresses that question but nothing which really answers it.

How do you really establish Trump’s—or anyone’s—”intent,” or “state of mind,” ever? Among other things, Trump literally told Georgia’s Secretary of State that “I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have.” Even if Trump genuinely believed that the state of Georgia had somehow erroneously misplaced 11,779 votes for him, and remained somehow sincere in that false belief even after being informed that it was false, he very explicitly asked for one more vote than the number which he claimed really existed. Supposedly, Trump wanted Raffensperger to find 11,780 fraudulent votes for Biden and throw them out; he and his lawyers will insist that he genuinely believed that mass fraud favoring Biden existed, while other experts say that it still “could constitute criminal solicitation to commit election fraud.” But, again, this has been in front of us for more than a year. Either the record of the call proves that Trump was pressuring an election official to commit election fraud, or nothing can ever really meet the standard of proof at work.

I have made this larger point many times, especially in regards to the Capitol putsch; however, that was at least in some real ways a much more complicated event than Trump’s 1/2/21 phone call or even all of the efforts which he and Lindsey Graham, both, made to get Georgia election officials to commit fraud. Within the overall plain picture of January 6, many meaningful details remain yet unknown. That is not and cannot be the case with January 2. Yet “The prosecutor weighing whether Donald Trump and others committed crimes by trying to pressure Georgia officials to overturn Joe Biden’s presidential election victory said a decision on whether to bring charges could come as early as the first half of this year.”

Since I initially posted this, the Fulton County DA asked for a grand jury to examine this matter, and Gwen Keyes and Norm Eisen made the least-weak effort I have seen to argue that authorities haven’t just sat on their hands for 12 months before even starting to respond—but that overall impression remains nonetheless.

I’m sorry, I can be persuaded that even here, this is how things work, that it’s absolutely customary, etc., but I can not be persuaded that this really makes sense.

Here and many places, the tools and systems which once seemed good enough to be considered functional now seem, instead, like they are rituals continued from inertia. Here, in particular, is an example which is just so plain that this makes it difficult to process.

Some times it really does feel like we are living in a sim which went haywire some time ago.

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