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Jonathan Bernstein

Ranking Trump-Russia in Scandal History

It's already the biggest one since Iran-Contra. Maybe bigger.
Mulling Mueller's place in history.

Mulling Mueller's place in history.

Photographer: Alex Wong/Getty Images

At the core of disagreements about the Trump-Russia affair's place in U.S. history is a definitional question: What is a scandal anyway?

Scandals are big news, of course, but many had very little direct impact on the world beyond the corruption of some government officials. Failed policies, on the other hand, can directly wreak havoc on millions of people. That doesn't mean scandals are unimportant. Even mild corruption can be harmful to democracy, and full-on assaults on the rule of law threaten the entire possibility of self-government.