Byron York describes the new standard for evaluating wild allegations against President Trump: Have they been disproved?:
When a political figure is accused of wrongdoing, a conversation begins among journalists, commentators, and public officials. Are the charges true? Can the accusers prove it?
That’s the way it normally works. But now, in the case of the Trump dossier – the allegations compiled by a former British spy hired by the Clinton campaign to gather dirt on presidential candidate Donald Trump – the generally accepted standard of justice has been turned on its head. Now, the question is: Can the accused prove the charges false? Increasingly, the president’s critics argue that the dossier is legitimate because it has not been proven untrue.
Byron cites examples:
Not a single revelation in the Steele dossier has been refuted,” noted Sen. Dianne Feinstein, top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, in February.
In late December, Laurence Tribe, the Harvard law professor, tweeted a message about the allegations against Trump to his followers: “Retweet if, like me, you’re aware of nothing in the [Trump] dossier that has been shown to be false.”
“The dossier has not been proven false,” said MSNBC anchor and former George W. Bush aide Nicolle Wallace in February.
More recently, Chuck Todd, moderator of NBC’s “Meet the Press,” asked former CIA Director John Brennan, “So far with this dossier, nothing yet has been proven untrue. How significant is that?”
“As Jim Comey has said, I think very famously, these were salacious and unverified allegations,” Brennan responded. “Just because they were unverified does not mean they were not true.”
Comey has also said that “it’s very difficult to prove something didn’t happen.” John Brennan isn’t very bright, but he understands this.
In addition, Comey has said that when Trump asked him to investigate the most salacious allegations in the dossier, he demurred. Indeed, the FBI has never attempted to disprove these allegations.
Moreover, according to the new book Russian Roulette by Michael Isikoff and David Corn, Michael Steele who wrote the dossier doesn’t believe the alleged sex episode occurred. He said there’s perhaps a 50-50 chance of it being true. And Glenn Simpson, head of the opposition research company that commissioned the dossier, reportedly considered the Russian source for the story a “big talker” who might have made the sex episode up to impress Steele.
Yet, Sen. Feinstein, Prof. Tribe, John Brennan, and assorted talking heads place on President Trump the burden of disproving salacious allegations not believed even by those who spread them. And they do so despite the fact that Trump asked the FBI to investigate the matter, but the FBI did not.
Most Americans still believe in fair play, including the proposition “innocent until proven guilty.” Increasingly, they perceive, I think, that President Trump isn’t being treated fairly. Defying the odds once again, Trump may well be gaining public sympathy.