My better instincts counsel against writing this column. Give it more time, they say. Go for a walk. Rake some leaves. But as it sometimes goes, the best advice is ignored, and impulse wins the hour.

The indictment of former Brookings Institution analyst Igor Danchenko for lying to the FBI last week has torn the scab off an old wound. To most, this would seem an obscure, process-oriented event of the kind Washington traffics in daily rather than doing much about our daily concerns. But to me, the lies Danchenko told are personal, even though I shouldn’t take it that way.

To real reporters in America, the Steele Dossier, the “pee-pee” affair, and the origins of the fruitless Russia probe are just more of the same. Sure, the media was in a unique state of frothiness about all this three and four years ago. But the wind usually carries bad smells away, and anyone who wrote on these matters then is hoping the wind really starts picking up now.

What has become painfully clear to those of us who can’t help but pay attention, though, is that the systemic lie that shook the foundations of our democracy for a brief spell is now being recognized by officialdom for what it was.

First, there was the indictment and conviction of FBI lawyer Kevin Clinesmith for forging a FISA warrant request. Then the indictment of a senior lawyer at a firm retained the Clinton campaign for lying to the FBI. And now there is this, with a pretty good chance that the indictments will continue.

In other words, the entire basis for the Russia probe was a lie.

A telling photo from Colin Powell’s funeral the other day shows Hillary Clinton standing a few feet to the right of former President Bush and nowhere near her fellow Democrats. In Washington, when no one wants to stand near you anymore, it’s usually a sign of things to come.

While I am precluded from writing about my own case because of my agreement with the Department of Justice, it’s more or less known that it derived from this whole imbroglio. That’s why I take this personally, even if only a small bit of it had anything to do with me.

What I see from some much-appreciated distance is the Justice Department, in particular Special Counsel John Durham, cleaning up a mess. Will he go all the way? Probably not, that’s not how Washington works. But three arrests are still more than anyone could have hoped for three years ago.  Because of the enormity of this, there will probably be at least a couple more.

When this is all over, we’ll have another occasion to ask “Was it worth it?” We can’t really ask if the ends justify the means because the probe was a failure. But we can ask if a political outcome one side sees as apocalyptic justifies the perversion of whatever it takes to undo it.  That will be a question for historians.

The good news is that now they have something more than frothiness with which to work. Mr. Durham, thank you, and keep up the good work.

Sam Patten is a recovering political consultant who was raised in Knox County and worked for Maine’s last three Republican senators.