On Monday night, the FBI executed a search warrant at the home of a former U.S. president; it couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy. No, just f–king with you, of course: it happened to Donald Trump, a man whose epitaph should read “one-man crime spree,” right next to “Four Seasons Total Landscaping” and “They were going to do fruit.” The search reportedly related to the government documents Trump took with him to Mar-a-Lago when he left the White House, which are said to have included classified, and in some cases “top secret,” materials.
The news was broken by local journalist Peter Schorsch, followed by a press release about the incident from none other than Trump himself, who wrote: “These are dark times for our Nation, as my beautiful home, Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Florida, is currently under siege, raided, and occupied by a large group of FBI agents. Nothing like this has ever happened to a President of the United States before. After working and cooperating with the relevant Government agencies, this announced raid on my home was not necessary or appropriate. It is prosecutorial misconduct, the weaponization of the Justice System, and an attack by the Radial Left Democrats who desperately don’t want me to run for President in 2024, especially based on recent polls, and who will likewise do anything to stop Republicans and Conservatives in the upcoming Midterm Elections. Such an assault could only take place in broken, Third-World Countries, corrupt at a level not seen before. They even broke into my safe! What is the difference between this and Watergate, where operatives broke into the Democrat National Committee? Here, in reverse, Democrats book into the home of the 45th president.” Obviously, the astonishment at the idea that the Feds would search his safe, i.e. a place where people typically hide things of great value—like, perhaps, highly sensitive documents—is the best part. Also, the fact that it happened on the anniversary of the day Richard Nixon announced he would resign.
According to the New York Times’s Maggie Haberman, Trump was not at Mar-a-Lago when the search took place, but at his golf club Bedminster, NJ, “preparing for a deposition with the New York attorney general in a civil matter related to his finances.” (Here, let’s pause to note the incredible number of legal fronts on which the ex-president appears to be screwed.) As many have noted, the Feds would have had to get permission from a judge to search Mar-a-Lago, and it is a big freaking deal that there was enough evidence, and probable cause of a crime, that a judge gave them the go-ahead. On Twitter, former Obama adviser David Axelrod and others suggested that Attorney General Merrick Garland—known for not wanting to do anything that would politicize the Justice Department—would surely have had to sign off on the whole thing. The current director of the FBI, Christopher Wray, was appointed by Trump after he fired James Comey. Both the FBI and the Justice Department declined the Times’ requests for comment.
Earlier this year, the National Archives removed from Mar-a-Lago the 15 boxes of documents and other items Trump had taken with him, which the Washington Post reported “indicated there were questions about whether Trump violated the Presidential Records Act, which requires the preservation of memos, letters, notes, emails, faxes and other written communications related to a president’s official duties.” As the Times noted on Monday, the Presidential Records Act, “lacks teeth, but criminal statutes can come into play, especially in the case of classified material.” Criminal codes carry jail time for anyone who “willfully injures or commits any depredation against any property of the United States” and “willfully and unlawfully conceals, removes, mutilates, obliterates or destroys” government documents. Speaking of the mutilation of documents: also on Monday, before the news of the search broke, Axios published photos of documents Trump is said to have clogged the White House toilets with.
Almost immediately after Trump tweeted that the search had occurred, his allies were insisting it was evidence that the FBI and DOJ were corrupt entities that needed to be gutted. A Florida lawmaker tweeted: “Any FBI agent conducting law enforcement functions outside the purview of our State should be arrested upon sight.” Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene said we must “DEFUND THE FBI.” Eric Trump, echoing his dad, claimed only third world countries hold people accountable in such a manner. Donald Trump Jr. hysterically tweeted: “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!!!” House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy—y’know, the guy who vowed to hold Trump accountable in the days following January 6 and then decided to do the opposite—vowed to get revenge on Garland. Perhaps most alarmingly, NBC News reporter Ben Collins noted that “the posts on these pro-Trump forums tonight are as violent as I’ve seen them since before January 6th. Maybe even moreso.”