Yesterday, the FBI executed a search warrant of Mar-a-Lago. My understanding is that they’re looking for government documents that Trump brought to Mar-a-Lago. The GOP and conservative media had a plan of how they would respond, and I wanted to focus on that in this thread.
14 thoughts on “The GOP’s and Conservative Media’s Irresponsible and Dangerous Response to the FBI Executing a Search Warrant of Mar-a-Lago.”
If the Republicans take back the House (and/or Senate), I think there’s a good chance we lose our republic.
That sounds irrational, but that’s my reaction when I saw Kevin McCarthy’s tweet yesterday–in response to the news that the FBI executed a search warrant at Mar-a-Lago:
McCarthy is not only openly threatening the AG–he is doing so knowing that the DOJ likely has legitimate reasons for doing this. McCarthy says, “He’s seen enough.” What? How is he sure the search warrant wasn’t justified? Indeed, there have been several reports earlier this year that Trump took government documents to Mar-a-Lago. (There were reports he inappropriately destroyed or failed to preserve documents and information, which is illegal.*) In my view, McCarthy and the GOP don’t care if the search was legitimate–they’re all about power.
Also, this doesn’t just pertain to Garland. To me, McCarthy’s quote signals they’ll go after Biden, or anyone in the federal agencies. Their criticisms below that “no one is safe” is projection. That’s what they’re going to do to their political enemies and any civil servant that gets in their way. When the GOP complains about Biden “weaponizing” the DOJ, they mean they’re going to weaponize the DOJ if they regain power.
Does the GOP want violence?
And it’s not just McCarthy. Look at the tweets below–tweets that I think are irresponsible and dangerous–tantamount to lighting a match and pouring gasoline on it. No one can be surprised if someone–a Democrat or Republican, a government worker–or their family member–is seriously hurt or even killed. The people in these tweets will have blood on their hands. It makes me wonder: Do they actually want violence from Trump supporters?
Where is Mitt Romney, Lisa Murkowski, Ben Sasse, et al.?!
It’s unreal to me that they’re just deciding to sit this out, while all this happens. They want the DOJ, and Democrats and Cheney and Kinzinger, to do all the dirty work. They can’t sit this one out–not when the trajectory towards violence and the end of American experiment is clear. Could it be that they’re ignoring or downplaying 1/6?
Utter and abject rot:
Trump riled up a mob, sent them to the Capitol, and targeted Pence with a tweet, after the rioters breeched the Capitol—endangering not only Pence, but his wife, daughter, and the Secret Service trying to protect them. To put his ambition above this reaffirms that Pence himself is totally unfit to be POTUS.
The use of “unprecedented” reminds me of a similar tactic the GOP used with negative press coverage. They would act as if really negative press coverage, by itself, proved “hatred” of Trump by the press. But it elided the most important question: was the coverage appropriate? Same here: Did Trump behave in unprecedented ways that might warrant the unprecedented searching of his property? I think there’s good reason to think the answer is yes.
This is another variation less direct, but not less irresponsible way of undermining the trust in DOJ and the FBI.
This approach is particularly reprehensible if the Grassley and others who adopt this approach know an investigation into Trump is justified and legitimate—or very likely could be. For my money, I believe Grassley, et al., know.
I don’t like relying on edited videos, but if this clip is not an unfair distortion of Sen. Paul’s words, it’s really bad.
This is like a guy pouring gasoline all over a house saying, “Hey, people are worried about homes burning down, and I don’t blame them.” A U.S. Senator saying these things without any proof is totally reckless. Actually, how can we not conclude that he and the GOP actually want to erode the trust in government?
This the type of weasel approach that I find so despicable–namely expressing concern and speaking in a way that sounds descriptive, but actually serves to encourage violence and even threaten the DOJ if they prosecute Trump. And the kicker: Graham and others like him know that Trump did things that deserved impeachment and removal, if not the breaking of laws.
Tangent: Regarding the “87,000 IRS workers coming after you” line
The Dems’ big Inflation Reduction Bill includes monies to beef up the IRS. Why? Because analysis has shown that wealthy individuals get away with not paying taxes because the IRS doesn’t have the manpower and resources to analyze their complex tax returns. For example, from the WaPo editorial board:
With regard to the last point about the fewest auditors, the number of audits have decreased significantly over the last ten years, going from over 80% audits for corporations with over $20 billion in assets to under 40% in 2020.
Please also check out this WaPo description of the outdated technology and processes within the IRS. It’s almost comical.
Finally, read this WaPo op-ed by five previous IRS commissioners, advocating for an increase in resources and why that’s important. Here’s one reason:
The result is that wealthy individuals and corporations end up not paying the taxes they owe. I think a high percentage of Americans, including Trump supporters, would support increasing resources to the IRS.
The GOP’s tactic seems clear to me: They’re want to scare Americans and they don’t care if they undermine the trust and faith in the federal government to do so. Why? To me, it comes down to protecting the money of the wealthy, not keeping taxes low because it’s good for the economy. It’s a scam, and I’m afraid a lot of their supporters will fall for it.
For the GOP, it’s all about power.
As others have pointed out, Trump reviled in chants of “lock her up” at his rallies.
Also, Hillary Clinton’s big sin was ostensibly inappropriate handling of classified information. We could generate a long list of examples–much more egregious–from Trump. Off the top of my head–using an insecure cell phone; giving highly classified information to the Russians in the oval office; looking at images of North Korean missile launches in an insecure setting in Mar-a-Lago…I could go on. (I believe Ivanka also used a private service while working in the WH, although maybe I’m wrong about that.)
And now we have Trump taking government documents to Mar-a-Lago
See this thread for articles on this:
GOP didn’t care about any of this, but they care about Hillary’s emails and they didn’t think the DOJ or FBI were weaponized when they investigated for this–or publicly announcing a reopening of an investigation ten days before the 2016 presidential election.
They don’t really have principles except to acquire power (and protect the money of the wealthy, which is related to the first goal).
Violent talk on social media from Trump suporters
Republicans and Rupert Murdoch and his crew know what can happen with inflammatory rhetoric.
The “good” Republicans who are silent also know.
Is it simply to a quest for power and money or do they actually want violence?
More warning signs:
Republicans should condemn this vociferously–to decrease the likelihood of violence. Of course, the Republicans and Murdoch and his minions used inflammatory rhetoric that likely instigated threats like this. Still, they could do the right thing and condemn this–or at least walk back their earlier statements. But I’m not expecting them to do so. (They’re going to wait until a judge or politician actually gets hurt before they do this. Until then, I predict they’ll continue with their reckless incitement.)
That leaves the “responsible” Republicans and conservative journalists. They should vociferously condemn this, too. But as far as I can tell, they’ve largely been silent, which is just as bad.
Sampling of incendiary rhetoric, dangerously demonizing Democrats and Biden, in order to fundraise:
If there is a law against incitement of violence, I would think this would be in the ballpark.
Man armed with AR-15 style rifle shoots into FBI Cincinnati building with a nail gun and flees, leading to interstate standoff
Sadly, I’m guessing this won’t be enough to chasten and sober up the GOP.
On the Tucker Carlson program Brian Kilmeade (subbing for Carlson) showed a manipulated photo of Ghislaine Maxwell and Jeffery Epstein–with Judge Reinhart’s head replacing Epstein’s.
I’m thinking of the way some unhinged individuals believe Democrats and the “Deep State” are pedophiles. Fox News is endangering the life of Judge Reinhart.
Merrick Garland Speaks
Regarding Obama shipping “30 millions documents to Chicago,” read this analysis by WaPo’s Aaron Blake.
Here’s a key part:
(emphasis added. Note the New York Post featured a recent op-ed citing these details, and Fox News and Trump ran with it.)
National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) responds to Trump’s accusations about Obama.
Garland said that he would move to release some of information on the warrant. I believe the judge in the case gave Trump and his lawyers until 3 PM Friday to object or not. Here’s a social media post by Trump:
I wonder what he has up his sleeve. (He has the information–he could release it himself.) Part of me thinks about his letter to President Zelensky–which Trump described as “perfect.” It was far from it, but Trump is clueless about behavior that is completely inappropriate. I’m wondering if this is the case this time as well–i.e., he genuinely doesn’t think he did anything wrong (but most responsible politicians would think the opposite).
Another possibility, that would not surprise: At the last minute, Trump decides to oppose the release of the warrant. (cf. Secret Service or Ginny Thomas boldly claiming they’ll testify under oath, and then later decide not to.)
No, the primary way to restore trust is for Republicans and “Conservative” pundits to defend the FBI and DOJ–especially if they believe the public should trust them. If they don’t feel like these agencies are trustworthy, provide the substantive evidence that would vindicate this claim. And if they lack this evidence, they shouldn’t lend legitimize feelings of distrust for these agencies.
The whopping 2 congressional Republicans defending the FBI
The silence from Mitt Romney, Lisa Murkowski, Susan Collins, Ben Sasse, Pat Toomey and the other Republican senators that voted to convict Trump in the second impeachment is deafening. They’re sitting this out. Apparently, they’re going to wait for something more horrific than 1/6 before they join Cheney and Kinzinger. So disappointing.
Apparently DOJ/FBI were looking for…
“Classified documents relating to nuclear weapons were among the items FBI agents sought in a search of former president Donald Trump’s Florida residence on Monday, according to people familiar with the investigation.” from WaPo
There’s also this information, which would should interest those who felt Hillary Clinton should have been “locked up” for her handling of classified information:
The article mentions violent threats against federal law enforcement as well:
Something else to consider:
What’s in the unsealed Mar-a-Lago Search Warrant?
This is analysis from Lawfareblog.com. I haven’t read it all yet, but I’ll try to comment later.
It’s a good point, but I would add–it doesn’t mean Trump didn’t commit espionage; we just don’t know right now.
Another valid question/rebuttal to Trump claims and GOP defense of Trump:
(I want to put a thread on declassification, and maybe I will later. But I would note that I’ve seen knowledgeable people say that the information need not be classified for a crime to have occurred.)
Trump Lawyer Told Justice Dept. That Classified Material Had Been Returned from the NYT
He had those documents for at least a year, which is worrisome given his history of not following security protocols.
(Aside: At some point, some Trump supporters will likely make the following argument: “If these documents were so critical, why’d the National Archives and DOJ wait so long?” Answer: Former presidents would normally be given the doubt and courtesy. I would ask Trump supporters: Do they not trust Trump regarding the materials he’d taken? Would they have wanted NARA and DOJ to go after the documents much earlier?)
This is significant. His own advisers “urged” him to returned what remained. The advisers also reveal Trump’s desire to hold on to them. This would eliminate the argument that Trump didn’t know or wasn’t told to return the items. He wanted to keep the document in spite of being told he couldn’t.
In June 2022, Jay Bratt and some others from DOJ met with Trump and his lawyers to resolve this.
This seems really bad for Trump’s lawyers, and Trump himself.
Someone else brought up the question as to why DOJ ordered a padlock on the room? Didn’t DOJ believe they had all the documents?
Answer: Stop making false accusations against the DOJ and FBI. Of course, that assume he cares about putting out this fire, which is something we can rule out given his track record. The next paragraph is a case in point:
My understanding is that Trump gave the subpoena, with the names of the FBI agents, to Brietbart, and the latter released this information to the public. Now, those agents’s lives and the lives of their family are in jeopardy.
Summary of Trump’s defense
This seems like a decent summary:
I want to make another point. Anti-Trumpers are tearing a part and mocking these arguments on twitter, which seem wholly justified. However, the larger goal for Trump and his minions may be to confuse and exhause the public, particularly the casual news consumers. The arguments are silly and even contradictory, but the latter may be feature not a bug–if your goal is confusion. This is the “flood the zone with falsehood” method, and it’s a real problem, not something to laugh off and dismiss.
Trump’s secrets: How a records dispute led the FBI to search Mar-a-Lago from WaPo
Trump’s handling of classified information
From his former Chief of Staff, John Kelly:
From his former National Security Adviser, John Bolton:
Law enforcement investigating an arsonist. Arsonist says people are mad, and we could see more fire. While pouring gasoline, arsonist says he’s worried about fires, says he’ll do whatever he can to prevent them.
Trump ‘will do whatever’ he can to ‘help the country’ after FBI raid: ‘Temperature has to be brought down’ Fox News
It doesn’t seem like his desire to help is genuine:
Trump went on to suggest that the FBI “could have planted anything they wanted” during the raid.
People are so angry at what is taking place,” Trump said. “Whatever we can do to help — because the temperature has to be brought down in the country. If it isn’t, terrible things are going to happen.”
He added: “The people of this country are not going to stand for another scam.”
An example of projection–i.e., use of the word “scam.”
Unfortunately, his incitement has real world impact:
My understanding is that a “dirty bomb” is a radioactive weapon, a kind of nuclear device without the explosion. (I could be wrong about that last part, though.)
Congressional Republicans and conservative pundits who have participated in inflammatory language or who have remained silent will have blood on their hands if law enforcement or federal employees are hut. It’s totally predictable.
I didn’t read this, but I’m skeptical this is true.
As Trump’s legal peril increases, Trump will likely become more erratic, and he’ll likely attempt to intensify the anger of his supporters.
I’m reminded of one of those Georgia election officials who held a press conference where he emphatically warned that someone would get shot because of inflammatory lies.
On a side note, I heard an interview with someone who wrote about far-right groups. She said she’s worried about another Oklahoma City type bombing.
It sounds like Trump is offering pardons (or seriously considering it, if he is re-elected) to individuals (at least some) involved in the 1/6 insurrection, as well as give them an apology (from the government?). Crazy that this is acceptable.
(I didn’t think of this, but someone mentioned that this was essentially pardons, which could undermine cooperation from people who the government prosecuted. Dangling pardons = obstruction of justice.)
Here’s what congressional Republicans should be saying
Trump had a rally for GOP candidate Doug Mastriano and Mehmet Oz yesterday. In the speech, Trump once again dangerously attacked the FBI, DOJ, and a federal magistrate. (Note: This is from CSPAN transcript, and for whatever reason, CSPAN writes in all caps.)
Here’s what Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger tweeted this morning in response to Trump’s speech.