Partisans on both sides deserve no trust in ongoing investigation.
DIAL BACK THE PANIC over some extreme House Republicans introducing articles of impeachment against Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, the official charged with overseeing the Russia investigation led by Special Counsel Robert Mueller.
There's almost no chance the impeachment movement will go anywhere. Heading into midterm elections House Republican leaders would rather wrestle an anaconda than start a fight that smells like it's engineered to kill the Russia investigation, which would be a sure-fire way to bring the other side out in waves to the polls. And even if articles of impeachment against Rosenstein somehow made it through the House at a future date, there clearly are not enough votes in the Senate to sustain it.
So Rosenstein is not likely to lose his job through impeachment. That, of course, doesn't protect him from being fired by an angry and impulsive President Trump, though such action likely would hurt Republicans at the polls in November, too.
MORE IMPORTANTLY, the American people should be thinking about how all this reflects on the proper roles for the presidency, the Congress and the nation's system of justice.
The political branches of government are, by their nature, highly partisan. This president - or any president - expects his party to protect his flank. Members of his party in Congress generally put partisanship first and seek to spin developments in ways intended to avoid penalties and consequences for bad behavior.
When the president in peril was Richard Nixon, congressional Republicans supported him until they didn't - after White House tapes incontrovertibly showed Nixon conspiring in the Watergate matter.
When it was Bill Clinton in hot water for abusing a White House intern and lying about it, Democrats held the partisan line and defeated the impeachment case that could have removed Clinton from office.
Now it's Trump and the politicians are acting just like politicians always do. Democrats are gunning for the president. Republicans mostly have circled the wagons and push back fiercely at every turn of the case.
AND THAT BRINGS US to America's system of justice, to Rosenstein's role and Mueller's role.
When questions need to be answered it is clear the partisans cannot be trusted, on either side. For them, it's all about power and dividing the spoils of elections. Partisans on both sides will tolerate almost anything from leaders of their party if it helps them get what they want and keeps them in the majority.
Yes, that's ugly. And, yes, it's true.
America needs a Justice Department that will not bend to partisan politicians of either the Democrat or Republican party. In law enforcement and the judiciary the mission must be this clear: Follow the facts wherever they lead and support and uphold the Constitution of the United States.
There's no room in that mission for kissing up to Republicans or Democrats. There's no room for politicians exercising control over investigations. And there's no room for targeting law enforcement officials for doing their jobs.
These articles of impeachment say a lot more about the politicians who drafted them than the deputy attorney general who is the target.
THAT'S NOT TO SAY the political branches of government should have no oversight responsibility for law enforcement. That's part of the job political leaders are elected to do, to guard against over-zealousness or corruption in the system.
But making heavy-handed demands in the midst of ongoing investigations, trying to steer investigators in certain directions or yank them back from others for partisan gain, or trying to eliminate or intimidate key personnel connected to such investigations, is a clear violation of the independence necessary to preserve justice.
Remember, too: This "witch hunt" already has resulted in criminal charges against 32 people and three companies, with a number of guilty pleas from key individuals now cooperating with prosecutors. America's intelligence agencies - and that means those now led by Trump appointees - remain unanimous that Russia meddled in the 2016 election and favored Trump, and Russia continues efforts to interfere with the 2018 midterm voting.
For all who are not blinded by either partisan animus or partisan loyalties, that's reason aplenty to make sure investigators are allowed to follow the facts wherever they lead. We offer no judgment on where that may be - but we believe fair-minded Americans ought to fully support and protect those trying to find out.