In 2009, Senator John Ensign, a Republican from Nevada, acknowledged that he had had an affair with a staffer. The authorities took notice when it came to light that Ensign’s parents had given the staffer and her husband $96,000 in what appeared to be hush money. The Justice Department would later suspend its investigation into the payments without taking action, but Ensign announced his intention not to seek reelection anyway. Then, oddly, he gave the Senate Ethics Committee a trove of damning emails and abruptly resigned before the committee could depose him. This weird story was the system working as planned, sort of: a wrongdoer cooperating with the investigation and quitting before the Senate had to get around to kicking him out.