Possibly the most notable element of the FBI’s seizure of White House records from President Trump’s Mar-A-Lago home is how the nation learned of it. It wasn’t from the FBI. The Department of Justice has not breathed one word about Monday’s visit to the former President’s Florida home.
President Trump is in his favorite role: victim. He broke the news on Monday and followed up with his favorite catchphrase: “Witch Hunt.” And the RNC, GOP congressional caucus and state parties are stepping right in with their support. Considering they don’t really want him to run again in 2024, this seems curious.
If there is one thing Republicans have learned from the Trump era, it’s how to stay on message. But the party has been quietly moving away from Trump since the 2020 election. Why suddenly embrace him now as Victim-in-Chief?
Let me backtrack a bit to how the “raid” went down. This seizure of documents appears to be an act of last resort for Attorney General Merrick Garland. Department of Justice lawyers have been meeting with Trump attorneys at Mar-A-Lago throughout the summer over the matter of presidential records not turned over to the National Archives, in violation of the Presidential Records Act of 1978.
Apparently, these discussions went nowhere. In addition to the potential violation of the Presidential Records Act, there remained concern that classified materials were being stored at Mar-A-Lago. I can tell you that if the FBI thought I had classified materials in my basement, they would be raiding my house in a flash with a lot less consideration.
Instead, this was carefully timed. President Trump was not at his residence. The seizure took place in coordination with the Secret Service members present at the residence, and there was no public release of any kind made by the FBI or DOJ. One does not take the seizure of records from a former president lightly, and it appears that all appropriate consideration was given here.
This was the act of an attorney general convinced that President Trump would stop at nothing to obstruct this investigation and ignore continued requests to turn over these records under the law. (Remember how he ignored the emoluments clause in the Constitution during his entire presidency? Kind of like that.)
It’s important to note that this investigation is entirely separate from the investigation regarding the former president’s actions leading up to and during the January 6 riot. But that investigation is where the RNC has skin in the game, I believe.
The January 6 commission has dug up some impressive evidence and shown it on national television. Remember the video clip of Senator Josh Hawley cheering on the rioters outside the Capitol a few hours before he had to sprint out of the same building to get away from them? I do.
White House aides testified that six Republican members of the House requested pardons. One of them was Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida. (One has to wonder… for which potential criminal indictment? Trying to overthrow the election, or soliciting underage prostitutes?) One was Rep. Scott Perry of Pennsylvania, who sat in on a number of the December post-election strategy meetings at the White House. The FBI has seized his phone.
Cassidy Hutchinson testified in June that Rep. Mo Brooks of Alabama requested pardons for every member of the House GOP caucus who voted to invalidate the Electoral College results. Can you auto-pen a pardon?
Long story short, the January 6 commission is sharing the results of its investigation with the Department of Justice. It’s not clear that DOJ could or would take any actions against sitting members of Congress before November.
But this is a Big Problem for mid-terms and the RNC is Not Having It. I hope you enjoyed the short break from Trumpism, because we’re back fighting the Deep State again.
So let’s get our campaign talking points straight. We’re tough on crime, unless you are Matt Gaetz. We will work to support and expand law enforcement, unless you’re the FBI. We support elected leaders who support fiscal conservatism, are pro-life, will protect our citizens’ right to arm themselves, want to reduce our dependence on foreign oil, and who support a strong military. Except, and especially except, Liz Cheney.
Everybody got that? A united message is a united party! Let’s make 2022 the best year ever!