It's "cui bono?" in Latin. Francophones ask, "à qui profite le crime?" Whatever your linguistic leanings, the point is the same. If you're trying to figure out who committed a crime, figure out who benefits from it.
Let's apply the principle to the racially-charged Senate run-off race in Mississippi, in which the African-American Dem, Mike Espy, faces Republican Cindy Hyde-Smith. One day before today's election, two nooses are found at the state capitol.
So . . . who benefits? CNN's Joe Johns supplied the answer on this morning's New Day:
"The President defending Hyde-Smith, and directly attacking her challenger, the Democrat Mike Espy . . . The remarks coming hours after a pair of nooses were found at the Mississippi state capitol. Espy supporters hoping to turn anger into turnout."
To be clear: we don't know who is responsible for the nooses. It might have been a white racist. But we do know the answer to cui bono? As Joe Johns made clear, it's . . . Mike Espy.
And it is well documented that many reported hate-crime incidents, including the placing of nooses, have ultimately turned out to be hoaxes perpetrated by the alleged victims, as here, here and here.
You'd hope that the Mississippi capitol is covered by security cameras, and that the culprit, whoever it may be, will be apprehended. But that's unlikely to happen before the polls close today. And in the meantime, the Espy camp is banking on the incident spurring turnout among his base. A qui profite le crime? Indeed.
JOE JOHNS: President Trump barnstorming Mississippi in support of Republican Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith, despite a series of racially-charged controversies plaguing her campaign.
. . .
The President defending Hyde-Smith and directly attacking her challenger the Democrat, Mike Espy.
PRESIDENT TRUMP: He's far left. Oh, he's out there. How does he fit in with Mississippi? Just explain. I mean, I could go over this, but how does he fit in?
JOHNS: The remarks coming hours after a pair of nooses were found at Mississippi's state capitol. Espy supporters hoping to turn anger into turnout.