The OJ Formula: When You Lack The Facts, Argue The Process
The regrettable public re-emergence of O.J. Simpson the past fortnight is a reminder of a truism that emerged from his 1994 trial (and acquittal) for murdering his wife and a friend.
Once Simpson tried to bolt for the border in the white Bronco, chances of him being a free man ever again looked dim. But his crack legal team was unfazed. With everything pointing to their client as the one who brutally murdered Nicole Simpson and Ron Goldman, they adopted a dependable legal strategy.
“When you have the facts, argue the facts. When you don’t have the facts, argue the process.”
Lacking the facts, the Dream Team discredited the process of gathering blood samples, alleged racist detectives and scorned gloves left on the scene of the murder. And won. On the new platform of 24-hour news channels.
The echo of the Simpson story is reverberating today in the constant Russian turmoil engulfing Washington D.C. Like O.J., the Donald Trump collusion fantasy has created a media sensation— one that has exploited the emerging world of Twitter and other social media platforms.
The facts on the ground about Trump conspiring with the Russians to win the election are— after almost a year of scrutiny— few and loosely connected. Those that do exist— meetings abetted by Azerbaijani pop stars and their agents— are often the products of Trump’s dim-witted sons and over-excited handlers, not KGB moles.
While these lurid concoctions about corruption in the White House might float the conspiracy boat of CNN, MSNBC or the Washington Post, their lack of criminality means they’d never get past the court clerk yelling “All rise!” Likewise, the spectre of the Russian ambassador chatting up GOP at their convention is not going to be the stuff of impeachment.
But the denizens of the DC Swamp, Trump’s nemesis, are made of stern stuff. Not for them to let an absence of facts stall their quest to have the 2016 election ruled null and void. Having a shortage of facts, they have subjected Trump to death by process.
To get Trump out of the White House, replaced by a Democrat of their liking, they and their media allies been able to poke the eye of the thin-skinned Trump, forcing him and his administration into a series of own goals.
The Jeff Sessions controversy is a good illustration of how to play process Chess. Using an innocuous meeting with Russian ambassador Kislyak as the lever, the DC folks got Sessions to recuse himself from any of the Russian allegations being passed about CNN and MSNBC like the Zimmerman Telegraph.
This tiny moment of weakness was lauded as honesty and character by Sessions’ critics. But the Trump loyalist opened the door to the special prosecutor, Robert Mueller. Who, according to reports, is ranging far and wide into Trump’s colourful past. (Remember that Ken Starr, Bill Clinton’s pursuer, started with a real estate deal and ended with Monica Lewinsky.)
Anyone who thinks Mueller and his Democratic-leaning colleagues will find nothing there with which to clobber Trump are dreaming. But should we ne surprised?
Going back to the days of Caesar, no one does process like a government official. The arcane rules governing the running of the state have given power and purpose to civil servants such as Richelieu, Metternich and Cordell Hull. The Brits describe the obsession with picayune detail as “pettifoggery”, but this fog has real consequences.
Example: Political process means not just mentioning every Russian you ended up doing business with. That would be easy. It means every Russian this side of Alex Ovechkin you’ve happened to meet at a cocktail party, brushed up against at the theatre or gossiped with in your office.
So, Donald Trump Jr. and his brother-in-law Jared Kushner, both family members with security clearance, have been revising their disclosure documents on an hourly basis as they plumb their appointment calendars the past years. Events they considered mundane are suddenly like the secrets to the nuclear code to CNN.
Each subsequent revelation of an omitted meeting with a Russian is treated like high treason by Jake Tapper and Don Lemon. Lawyers arguing blood samples at O.J.’s trial could not have played the process better.
On one hand, it all seems so trivial. Trump and his kids are products of business, where handshakes, bluster and bullshit are the oil that greases there machinery of commerce. A meeting that goes nowhere? Fuhgetaboutit. Compliance documents? That’s what the lawyers are for. A speaking fee in Riga? Small beer.
But when process can restore the power the Deep State possessed under the pliable Barack Obama, such deals are kryptonite to Trump’s credibility. For a man who has no problem shredding his own credibility, Trump doesn’t need additional irritations from reporters who see “a pattern” or “tell signs” in the haphazard revealing of documents.
Bruce Dowbiggin @dowbboy.is the host of the podcast The Full Count with Bruce Dowbiggin on anticanetwork.com. He’s also a regular contributor three-times-a-week to Sirius XM Canada Talks Ch. 167. A two-time winner of the Gemini Award as Canada's top television sports broadcaster, he is also the best-selling author of seven books. His website is Not The Public Broadcaster (http://www.notthepublicbroadcaster.com)