Witnesses ‘flipping’ does corrupt justice. But not because they’re ‘rats.’

.. if we want to question our reliance on cooperators, we must be ready to question our very culture. Many of the people calling “witch hunt” today will tomorrow return to familiar law-and-order tropes. The president who decries “flipping” is simultaneously excoriating his opponents for being, as he sees it, soft on crime. Our vision of the criminal justice system is based not on reality, but on Nixonian rhetoric and Dick Wolf’s endlessly televised stories of heroic law enforcers fighting against shifty defense lawyers and sociopathic defendants. In short, flipping works because the culture tells us to trust prosecutors, police and even cooperators uncritically. Only a civic culture of healthy skepticism of prosecutors’ claims — a genuine appreciation for the concept of reasonable doubt — can change that.

.. But we won’t learn that skepticism from Trump, who routinely proclaims that the law protects criminals too much and that police should stop being gentle with them. His concern reaches only as far as his own skin and his own confederates. Serious criminal justice reform won’t come from partisan controversy. Today’s posturing critics of the system will vanish tomorrow. Only a bipartisan commitment to justice, fairness and the rule of law will protect anyone — let alone the president — from abuse of cooperation.