August 10, 2022

FBI Searches Mar-a-Lago

The FBI searched Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate as part of an investigation into whether he took classified records from the White House to his Florida residence, people familiar with the matter said Monday.” AP News

Both sides argue in favor of transparency regarding the investigation:

“Attorney General Merrick Garland has a clear duty to address the nation and explain Monday’s unprecedented FBI raid on a former president’s home. Hiding behind the ‘need to avoid compromising an ongoing investigation’ will fuel over-the-top speculation on all sides. Transparency can at least ground the debate in reality…

“For now, Andrew McCarthy lays out a likely scenario: While the warrant cited concerns that Trump still has documents that should’ve remained in Washington when he left, the raid was really a hunt for anything that might incriminate him regarding Jan. 6… The House hearings are a national TV ad to that end. But they have yet to show any clear evidence of real crimes… Garland needs to address that elephant in the room, and explain what in hell he’s doing. What were they hoping to find as they rifled through [Trump’s] private residence for more than nine hours?
Editorial Board, New York Post

“Trump and his allies will take any opportunity to attack and discredit the Justice Department, the F.B.I., the January 6th committee, prosecutors in Georgia and New York, and anyone else who investigates the former President as engaging in a political ‘witch hunt.’ Trump almost certainly received a copy of the search warrant and could release it publicly, but is unlikely to do so. Hours after announcing the raid, he began to use it as a fund-raising tool. Garland remained silent…

“For decades during the Cold War, federal prosecutors, F.B.I. agents, and politicians falsely smeared political candidates and civil-rights leaders as being Communists or subversives. Since Watergate, the Justice Department has strengthened rules that require prosecutors to keep investigations secret, and to not announce indictments at times when they can impact elections. Garland has devoted his life to upholding those norms, but he must recognize that, a half century after Watergate, a new American political landscape exists. Now the best way for him to counter the former President’s false narratives and to create public trust in the Justice Department is to prioritize transparency over secrecy. Silence is not an option in the post-Trump era.”
David Rohde, New Yorker

Other opinions below.

See past issues

From the Left

“I hope that the Department of Justice and the FBI, by virtue of the seriousness of this matter, have acted as carefully as possible in obtaining their search warrant. The gravity of the situation might suggest that they would have done so, but it doesn’t mean they did. Just as it cannot yet be said that Trump is a victim of political persecution, we do not yet know that the FBI’s actions here are justified…

“In keeping with conservative ideology about the infallibility of law-enforcement officials when they are not investigating Republicans, conservative judges and justices have consistently narrowed constitutional due-process protections that exist to prevent potential abuses. Indeed, Trump himself publicly encouraged cops to physically assault those in their custody, while his administration abandoned any pretense of federal oversight of police misconduct. Ultimately, conservatives believe this unfairness in the justice system to be a virtue, as long as they are never on its losing end.”

Adam Serwer, The Atlantic

A bedrock principle of American law is that no one—not even the president, much less the former president—is above the law, and if they commit crimes, they must answer for them. ‘What is the difference between this and Watergate, where operatives broke into the Democrat National Committee?’ Trump asked in his statement…

“But this question is simple enough that any AP U.S. History student could easily manage it: Watergate was an illegal break-in conducted by a team of political operatives, not law-enforcement agents with judicially approved warrants, working for an FBI director appointed by Trump…

“For all Trump’s bluster, he hasn’t been charged with any crimes. If he is, he will have every opportunity to defend himself in court. (Contrast that with his own disdain for due process for other people accused of crimes.) Some legal scholars are nervous about the precedent set by potentially prosecuting a former president. But the precedent set by giving him a free pass by virtue of his electoral history would be even more troubling.”

David A. Graham, The Atlantic

From the Right

“The decision to search Trump’s residence comes at a time when the FBI’s credibility lies in tatters. Americans know that Comey misled them when he said that the Democrat-funded Steele dossier was merely ‘part of a broader mosaic’ of information presented in the FBI’s applications to wiretap former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page — because the Justice Department’s inspector general found that it was in fact ‘central and essential’ to the applications…

“We then learned that FBI officials had falsified or withheld evidence presented to the U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court in four surveillance applications, which led to a stinging rebuke from the court’s presiding judge, Rosemary Collyer, who said the bureau’s misconduct called into question ‘whether information contained in other FBI applications is reliable.’…

“Then, after spending two years and tens of millions of dollars investigating Trump, special counsel Robert S. Mueller III cleared Trump of engaging in a criminal conspiracy with Russia… That’s not all. Last month, Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) reported that multiple FBI whistleblowers had come to him with allegations that senior FBI officials had engaged in a scheme to falsely portray credible evidence related to Hunter Biden’s financial and foreign business activities as foreign disinformation to stop further investigation from going forward.”

Marc A. Thiessen, Washington Post

“The warrant must immediately be made public… For the raid to be justified, the warrant and the explanation must clearly reveal (a) that there was an urgent need to obtain evidence that pertained to a serious crime, (b) that this evidence could not possibly have been obtained by other means, or on another occasion, or without a surprise visit, and (c) that, if the target was not named Donald Trump, a similar operation would have been launched…

“If this standard is not met, Merrick Garland must resign or be impeached, as must the head of the FBI… [and] the FBI must be examined and reformed as a matter of utmost priority.”

Charles C. W. Cooke, National Review

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