A week ago, the FBI carried out an act unprecedented in the history of the United States. It carried out a nine-hour pre-dawn raid on the Mar-a-Lago estate of President Donald Trump.
Since the raid, we’ve been treated to an ever-morphing series of excuses, none of them backed up by any official documents, that went from recovering presidential papers that should have been given to the National Archives and Records Administration to increasingly bizarre claims that President Trump had secret nuclear information (Startling New Report Indicates FBI Was Looking for Extremely Sensitive Documents at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago) and even payroll documents identifying US deep cover agents.
I’m not sure anyone believes any of this bullsh**. However, when one considers the complete picture of the ongoing investigation by the New York Attorney General and the ludicrous, over-the-top raid of Mar-a-Lago that may, for all we know, have included a sniffing session by an FBI agent in Melania’s underwear drawer, there is one conclusion. President Trump is being targeted because he may decide to run for president again. In this interview with Steve Gruber of Real America’s Voice, I think President Trump’s attorney, Alina Habba, hits the nail on the head.
The reaction by the NeverTrump side has been a pathetic attempt to spin this as a “no one is above the law” issue. This quote below is from Kevin Williamson of National Review. He’s a good weathervane for cutting-edge NeverTrump commentary because he’s so brilliant.
If you’ve ever been around Kevin Williamson, you’re jaw drops at how down-to-earth, gifted, erudite, and flat-out smarter than everyone in the room he is. That’s what being around @ChrisStirewalt is like.
— Andy McCarthy (@AndrewCMcCarthy) January 20, 2021
Nearly two years ago, my friend Mike Ford took issue when Williams gratuitously insulted Trump, his family, and everyone who voted for him (see Opinion: Great Move NRO; Insult 75 MILLION Americans). Williamson fired back in a screed called Rage-Monkeys Gonna Rage, in which he called Mike–a West Point graduate, honor graduate of Ranger School, holder of a master’s degree, decorated combat veteran, and a retired infantry colonel–”Cletus” and “[s]ome illiterate jabroni over at RedState.” Mike’s response in Opinion: I Am Cletus is a classic.
Should you disagree with this, it is because you can never hope to be as gifted and conservative as Williamson.
If we really believe, as we say we believe, that this is a republic, that nobody is above the law, that the presidency is just a temporary executive-branch office rather than a quasi-royal entitlement, then there is nothing all that remarkable about the FBI serving a warrant on a house in Florida. I myself do not find it especially difficult to believe that there exists reasonable cause for such a warrant. And if the feds have got it wrong, that wouldn’t be the first time. Those so-called conservatives who are publicly fantasizing about an FBI purge under the next Republican administration are engaged in a particularly stupid form of irresponsibility.
There are no fewer than five different congressional committees with FBI oversight powers. I’m not especially inclined to take federal agencies and their officers at their word in almost any circumstance, and so active and vigorous oversight seems to me appropriate here, as in most other cases. But if it turns out, in the least surprising political development of the decade, that Donald Trump is a criminal, then he should be treated like any other criminal.
If that did indeed establish a precedent, it would be a good precedent.
Jonah Goldberg naturally plays the role of either Edgar Bergen or Charlie McCarthy…I keep getting confused. He insists that if you see anything amiss with the raid on Mar-a-Lago, then it is you who are un-American and who long for a banana republic.
Here’s an easy thought experiment. Imagine a Third World banana republic. A populist leader recently ousted in an allegedly “rigged” election is waiting in the wings, plotting a return to power. The current ruler sends armed agents of the state to search the ousted ruler’s home in the hope of discrediting his once and possibly future opponent, presumably to prevent him from ever threatening his rule.
This, according to everyone from Donald Trump to large swaths of the GOP and its loyal commentariat, is what happened this week when the FBI searched Mar-a-Lago. “Such an assault could only take place in broken, Third-World countries,” Trump declared. “Sadly, America has now become one of those countries, corrupt at a level not seen before.” His son echoed the sentiment: “Biden’s out of control DOJ is ripping this country apart with how they’re openly targeting their political enemies. This is what you see happen in 3rd World Banana Republics!!!”
Similar declarations are all over the place.
But let’s return to the thought experiment: What happens next? The ousted ruler and his representatives claim that this affront to his dignity is really an insult to all of his supporters. Like followers of Hugo Chavez or Daniel Ortega, they insist that only by returning their leader in internal exile to power can they avenge this travesty and purge the government of these enemies of the people.*
That’s the argument raging like a religious awakening across much of the right this week. Once Trump announces he’s running for president, Mike Huckabee insists, “We need to rally around him and simply say, ‘He is the candidate.’ He will be re-elected. That’s because he’s the only candidate who’ll have the guts to take on this incredibly corrupt machine. We must put him back in and let him do this. I’m convinced at this point that this is the only hope for our nation, to get it back to the point where people can believe in it.”
This isn’t an argument against banana republic politics, it is banana republic politics. Let’s put aside any consideration of primaries or policy debates and simply anoint a strong man to redeem our nation, purge corruption, and punish our enemies.
I’ll put it plainly: If your “belief” in our country is so fragile and pathetic that you will lose “hope for our nation” unless Donald Trump is given free reign to cleanse the land of evildoers, then you don’t actually believe in this nation. If your love of country is contingent on your preferred faction being in power, you’ve confused partisanship for patriotism. Taken seriously, all of this banana republic talk is un-American.
On the other end of the spectrum, we have “it’s just another outrage driven by Trump.”
We’re in a classic Trump hair-on-fire frenzy. Nonstop talk about secret evidence, criminal charges, grave damage to national security, wild scenarios. And nobody knows what the evidence is, or is not. Secrecy allows anti-Trump speculation to flourish. Again.
— Byron York (@ByronYork) August 14, 2022
Goldberg and Williamson try to pretend what we’re seeing is some generic rule-of-law happening. It isn’t. This is a continuation of 2016, when the FBI and intelligence community interfered with the presidential election and eavesdropped on the campaign and presidential transition team of Donald Trump. If President Trump had sent the FBI to raid Eric Holder’s home looking for evidence of his complicity in the murder of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry, those two would have beshat themselves.
The current FBI action is an effort to keep President Trump from running for re-election. Everyone knows it, and they aren’t amused by the silly, puerile word games used to justify it.
HAPPENING NOW: Trump supporters line street to Mar-A-Lago following FBI raid which took place at the property on Monday.
Supporters have been here all week since. pic.twitter.com/A0Y71do9ox
— Jayne Zirkle (@JayneZirkle) August 13, 2022
Check out the crowds of Trump supporters that have been camped outside Mar-a-Lago since the FBI raid https://t.co/cdHoqoBaY7
— Not the Bee (@Not_the_Bee) August 15, 2022
THREAD: Today Trump supporters and group 'Loud Majority' gathered at Eisenhower Park on Long Island, to rally against FBI treatment of Former President Donald Trump when they executed warrant on his Mar-a-Lago Home. 👇 pic.twitter.com/o3CHGKwWnF
— Oliya Scootercaster (@ScooterCasterNY) August 14, 2022
Trump supporters in Phoenix, AZ gather outside the FBI building with gunspic.twitter.com/IG6FI2CbIb
— Fifty Shades of Whey (@davenewworld_2) August 14, 2022
Some weeks ago in regards to Trump’s likely prosecution by New York (The Left Is Anticipating President Trump’s Indictment in New York but They Haven’t Thought About What That Means to Everyone) I wrote:
Several years ago, I was the sponsor for a guy going through conversion from what he was (in a religious sense) to Catholic. He wasn’t just any guy; he was a very senior CIA officer who has frequently appeared on television since he transitioned to think-tank denizen. The Rite of Christian Initiation as an Adult (RCIA) experience builds a bond between sponsor and candidate/catechumen that often goes beyond religious conversations. On one occasion, we talked politics and foreign policy.
What separates us from the Third World in our politics, he opined, are the twin concepts of peaceful transfer of power via the ballot box rather than by military intervention and the unwritten and unspoken principle that victors do not use the police power of the state to punish the vanquished. Without the second concept, no sane person will ever relinquish office if they run the risk of ending up imprisoned or on the gallows. Once politics become a blood sport, he said, there is no way to stop the slide into rule by people with guns. I’d never really looked at it that way and can’t, even today, disagree with him. If there is any debt owed to Gerald Ford, it is his preservation of the republic by pardoning Richard Nixon.
…The left will think they have taught us a lesson, and they will be right. The next Republican president will be under enormous pressure to take a similar Democrat scalp. To be on the safe side and make it hurt, he’ll probably have to take down several prominent Democrats. And the left will ‘wave the bloody shirt’ and demand retribution the next time they occupy the White House. The real question becomes why a Republican from a Blue or even a Purple state would even bother to run for the presidency and what he would do when leaving office meant either prison or financial ruin in defending himself?
While the NeverTrumpers have turned defending the FBI into a risk factor for monkeypox (NTTAWWT), the pressure is building for payback. If the GOP elects a president not named Trump in 2024, one of the reasons for that election will be the Mar-a-Lago Raid. Another will be the Russia Hoax. The pressure to exact vengeance from everyone involved in this persecution of President Trump will be enormous and irresistible (personally, I’d be in favor of firing every federal agent that participated even tangentially in the Russia Hoax investigation, the arrest of Roger Stone, the January 6 investigation, the search warrant served on Jeffrey Clark, as well as the Mar-a-Lago raid). If the GOP takes back the House and Senate, the resistance to impeaching Biden, Harris, and Garland will be minimal. Not that removing them will be possible, but simply to even the score.
From there I’m not sure where we go.
Contrary to Goldberg, no one thinks former presidents are above the law. But just about everyone, except him and Williamson, are smart enough to realize when the prosecution is political and when it is criminal.
I don’t know how we back away from this ledge, and as the days go by, I care less and less whether we do or we don’t. I don’t think I’m alone.