The Truman Show Election: How The Public Is Left In The Dark Pending The Election

Below is my column in The Hill newspaper on the array of issues that now appear to be on hold pending the outcome of the election. This weekend former Vice President Joe Biden went so far as to say that voters do not “deserve” to know his position on packing the Court, reaffirming that voters must wait until after they elect him for an answer.  It has a familiar ring for those who watched the movie The Truman Show. 

Here is the column:

Joe Biden was asked again this week whether he would pack the Supreme Court if elected president. Rather than answer, Biden flashed a signature smile of the character from the “Truman Show” and offered his version of the classic line from the 1998 movie, “Good morning, and in case I do not see ya, good afternoon, good evening, and goodnight.”

From court packing to the Russia investigation to the Michael Flynn case, Washington is back to Seahaven Island where “you cannot get any further away before you start coming back.” In the movie, Truman Burbank was the only person in the dark. In this remake, the viewers are the voters in the dark, and only the main characters know the truth.

Though he once denounced court packing, as did the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Biden has refused to answer whether he would support the plan raised by Democrats, including his running mate Senator Kamala Harris. This week, Biden testily responded to reporters, “You will know my opinion on court packing when the election is over.”

That is a truly alarming position for a candidate to take. Court packing is widely viewed as threatening to destroy a foundational institution in our constitutional system. Yet Biden refuses to say whether he would take a hatchet to the Supreme Court of the last two centuries. But the future of the judicial branch is just one issue left on layaway.

As news emerged that United States Attorney John Durham uncovered some serious and possibly criminal conduct in the Russia investigation, Democrats demanded that he not release his report before the election. Indeed, the federal rules tell prosecutors to avoid timing “investigative steps or criminal charges for the purpose of affecting an election, or for the purpose of giving an advantage or disadvantage to any candidate or political party.” However, major cases often do affect elections, and they are not sealed in amber until the votes are counted.

The investigation by Durham is focused on conduct in the election four years ago. His subjects of scrutiny are not candidates on this ballot but rather federal officials involved in the investigation of potential collusion between Russia and the Donald Trump campaign in 2016. This proved to be unfounded. Ultimately, there was no evidence of collusion, let alone anyone who committed crimes related to collusion. Indeed, disclosed evidence shows the FBI was told early on that the allegations were not only dubious but possibly disinformation from Russia.

In recent weeks, we learned that the primary source used by Christopher Steele in his now infamous dossier was believed to be an agent of Russia. Recent declassified material also showed that in 2016, then CIA director John Brennan had briefed President Obama on an alleged plan by Hillary Clinton to tie then candidate Trump to Russia as “a means of distracting the public from her use of a private email server.” The handwritten notes from Brennen would seem extremely serious on their face. Indeed, the allegation was sufficiently serious to brief the president.

It reflected intelligence reports given to the FBI and then director James Comey. When asked last week about the report, Comey simply said it did not “ring a bell.” What rings his bell is precisely what the investigation by Durham could reveal. All of this recent evidence happens to tie in to other earlier facts, from the Clinton campaign lying about funding the dossier to Steele misrepresenting his sources and his conclusions.

There are arguments for delaying the release of the report by Durham this close to the election. But there is a lack of assurances that we would ever know the findings after the election. If Democrats control both chambers of Congress, it is unlikely they will have hearings on the report. Democrats on the intelligence committees have said they want the investigations into 2016 to end so we can all “look ahead rather than back.” If Biden becomes the next president, the Justice Department could shut down or curtail the investigation, or even classify its final report as privileged.

Democrats are not the only Washington officials leaving the future open. In the case of Michael Flynn, Judge Emmet Sullivan appears to be waiting out on the election before issuing a final ruling. Sullivan was supposed to sentence the former national security adviser two years ago. Instead, he held a hearing where he made disturbing statements about the case and then threatened to jail Flynn, ignoring the Justice Department probation recommendation. An appellate panel decided this summer that enough was enough, and it ordered Sullivan to dismiss the charge.

But the full appeals court decided Sullivan should be given a chance to do the right thing and issue a final ruling before any review. He has refused to sentence Flynn, despite the Justice Department finding that Flynn should not have been charged. When Sullivan got the case back from the appeals court, he knew he would very likely be reversed if he did not dismiss the charge. Yet he again refused to rule and lambasted the administration, and said that he “still has questions” about the case.

If Sullivan waits a few more months, the Justice Department might reverse its position on Flynn if Biden wins the election. That creates a disturbing image in a case already marred by allegations of bias. When prosecutors try to manipulate a case by selecting the judge, it is denounced as judge shopping. If Sullivan delays until after the election, it will appear to be a type of president shopping, delaying a sentencing almost three years to wait for a president more amenable to jailing Flynn.

Voters will have answers to these questions, as Biden stated, “when the election is over” and no sooner. Then it will be a new day. In the “Truman Show,” the master architect of the artificial world of the flim rejected the concept of truth and declared, “We accept the reality of the world with which we are presented. It is as simple as that.” With a few weeks to the election, it is indeed as simple as that for the voters.

Jonathan Turley is the Shapiro Professor of Public Interest Law at George Washington University. You can find his updates online @JonathanTurley.

278 thoughts on “The Truman Show Election: How The Public Is Left In The Dark Pending The Election”

  1. https://www.vox.com/2015/10/20/9570927/joe-biden-daily-show. Biden says he has coal miners in his family, he does not. Biden says he was the first in his family to graduate from college, he was not. The souce I have listed is from a media outlet that one could characterize as being far left without dispute. His statements were on the daily show. The daily show could certainly be said to be left leaning. He admits he was lying. Don’t trust me. Pull it up for yourself.

      1. https://nypost.com/2020/10/14/email-reveals-how-hunter-biden-introduced-ukrainian-biz-man-to-dad/

        Smoking-gun email reveals how Hunter Biden introduced Ukrainian businessman to VP dad

        Hunter Biden introduced his father, then-Vice President Joe Biden, to a top executive at a Ukrainian energy firm less than a year before the elder Biden pressured government officials in Ukraine into firing a prosecutor who was investigating the company, according to emails obtained by The Post.

        The never-before-revealed meeting is mentioned in a message of appreciation that Vadym Pozharskyi, an adviser to the board of Burisma, allegedly sent Hunter Biden on April 17, 2015, about a year after Hunter joined the Burisma board at a reported salary of up to $50,000 a month.

        “Dear Hunter, thank you for inviting me to DC and giving an opportunity to meet your father and spent [sic] some time together. It’s realty [sic] an honor and pleasure,” the email reads.

        An earlier email from May 2014 also shows Pozharskyi, reportedly Burisma’s No. 3 exec, asking Hunter for “advice on how you could use your influence” on the company’s behalf.

        The blockbuster correspondence — which flies in the face of Joe Biden’s claim that he’s “never spoken to my son about his overseas business dealings” — is contained in a massive trove of data recovered from a laptop computer.

        The computer was dropped off at a repair shop in Biden’s home state of Delaware in April 2019, according to the store’s owner.

        continued: https://nypost.com/2020/10/14/email-reveals-how-hunter-biden-introduced-ukrainian-biz-man-to-dad/

        1. Select responses:

          I’m not going to repeat what Russian intelligence has fed @RudyGiuliani but i will say this. Rudy is a traitor to the United States for trafficking in anti-American propaganda and any reporter who does the same is a tool.

          an email story in October of an election year that is produced by Giuliani and Bannon and promoted by a Murdoch tabloid. Because the disaster of media’s handling of 2016 was apparently not disastrous enough.

          Before more journos go peddling this @nypost story, they should do some diligence on the cover story for how Giuliani got the “hard drive.” Giuliani has been conspiring with Russian agents for months, including someone the US says is actively trying to interfere in this election

          If you believe that Giuliani, who is under investigation for his work in Ukraine, somehow obtained a laptop with Hunter’s most secretive Burisma files on it, which he allegedly discarded at a PC repair shop and never picked up, then you are as stupid as Trump thinks you are.

          Things that are sketchy in NYP story on Hunter Biden – why wasn’t this in Ron Johnson report if it’s been in possession for awhile? When did Giuliani acquire it? Giuliani has been everywhere on the but this has been kicking around since late last year and unreleased till now?

          Why would the FBI subpoena the computer? If the store owner could give it to Giuliani, he could give it to the FBI. Makes no sense. And let’s remember, Burisma was hacked last fall by Russia. Do not be complicit in spreading Russian efforts to interfere in the election.

          Reminder that Andrii Derkach, a Ukrainian national sanctioned by US Treasury for allegedly acting as a Russian agent to interfere in 2020–and has met w/Giuliani to discuss Biden conspiracies—has been releasing/teasing misleading or edited Biden material for nearly a year.

          1. Wow, all anonymous’ pretend friends were talking at the same time without any one of them making sense.

            Way to go Anonymous. Pathetic.

      2. Which one is it? First you tell us what a dolt Trump is and then you say he can stop the wind, blot out the sun and he could have waved his hand and stopped the coronavirus. I am awaiting your report on Cuomo and the nursing home disaster. I see you just got your new packet from the “Party” headquarters. I am sure it included very detailed marching orders.

      3. I believe that most of the commenters on this blog are regular everyday Americans. There is one participant who comments all day, every day on multiple articles from early in the morning until late at night. She is either compulsively obsessive, a paid “Party” operative or both. I don’t have to name her we all know who she is.

  2. Should Biden tell voters who he will nominate for the courts or whether he will pack the courts prior to the election ?

    That is up to him – and we should vote based on that and other factors.

    After the election is different.

    We have watched as generally led by democrats the rules and norms of governmental processes are erroded.

    Each step of democrats was followed tit for tat by republicans – who often benefited more from the democrats eliminations of the norms that democrats had.

    If Biden wishes to stack the court – LET HIM. But neither he nor democrats should presume that is the end of the issue.

    It is certain there will be a republican response. What that will be an how effective it will be depends on the public support for democrats breaching of prior norms.

    I want to re-iterate this – Those on the left should NEVER presume that some successful exercise of raw power – whether constitutional or not will happen without consequence or response.

    Slowly since the time of Wilson we have been eroding the norms of our system of government – which left the greatest freedom to individuals and limited government to those few tasks that required the use of force.

    The larger and broader government becomes, the more laws we have the more excercises of brute power, the larger the portion of the people who are at odds with their government.

    And ultimately the less stable government becomes.

    I could be wrong and Biden might get away with stacking the court if he is elected. But I highly doubt it.

    I do not know what the response would be.

    All kinds of things are possible – The states could call a constitutional convention.

    While the left has ranted about a non-existant rise in right wing militias – it is virtual certainty that A Biden presidency WILL result in a substantial rise in Militias. I would further note that democrats and the left are effectively undermining any support they might have from law enforcement. How do democrats expect to “put down” militias – when many of the members are police officers ?

    1. Those on the right should NEVER presume that some successful exercise of raw power – whether constitutional or not will happen without consequence or response.

  3. “Biden says the 56% of Americans who say they’re better off than in 2016 ‘shouldn’t’ vote for him” JTN

  4. “‘Not up to the job’: Former White House doctor says Biden lacks ‘mental capacity’ for presidency” JTN

      1. Allow law abiding citizens to own arms so they can defend themselves against criminals.

        Sadly, in a densely packed neighborhood with a lot of unincarcerated hoodlums, and a police force that’s standing down from arresting black men for fear of lawsuits, the mischief takes its toll nonetheless

        Get a good look at who the perps and victims are, overwhelmingly black on both sides in Chicago. But the mayor is black too and the chief of police. hmm. blame whitey?

      2. One of the main reason for gun control was so that African Americans couldn’t protect themselves from your type.

        (I have to laugh because you have created another alias. This one is not created by Anonymous)

      3. They’re a hobbyists association, you twerp.

        The obvious solution is to go to school with Wm. Bratton and Rudolph Giuliani. Which is precisely what gentry liberals and black chauvinists object to doing.

  5. “Biden thinks he can win even if the majority of the country votes against him. He thinks he can win without even campaigning. I wonder why he thinks that.”
    @stillgray

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