This has been floating around, but is worth confirming: Yes, the felony Donald Trump is suspected of committing—moving classified national security documents to his for-profit golf club—is only a felony because Donald J. Trump himself made it one. And yes, the ex-blowhard-in-chief did it specifically as part of his "Lock Her Up" blowhardism against his 2016 election rival, Hillary Clinton.
You may remember that Republicans, during the years of 2016 through 2021, believed that it was an absolute abomination to consider prosecuting any political figure for any crime other than "mishandling classified information," but "mishandling classified information" was such a severe crime that it required, as the loud jackasses who populated Trump's every rally constantly shouted, locking somebody up.
"Notably, Trump—after a fierce campaign against Clinton in which he called for her to be jailed for her handling of classified material—signed a law in 2018 that stiffened the penalty for the unauthorized removal and retention of classified documents from one year to five years, turning it into a felony offense."
Yeah. Yeah, he did do that.
Here's the law in question, and it wasn't a big, dramatic deal so much as it was the sort of petty performative sniping that House and Senate Republicans burped forth on a weekly basis. Republicans were, or so they claimed for what seems like 150 years or so, extremely put out that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, back in the days when the federal government was still attempting to get its act together on anything internet-related, was using a personal email address for government work. (Her predecessor Colin Powell also did this, and nobody gave a particular petunia.) References to classified information were found among those emails, and that's where "Lock Her Up" came from.
Well, one of the things. There was also a transparently crooked Steve Bannon-pushed "Clinton Cash" book that Guilianied through a whole confusing list of theoretical and hoax-premised alleged crimes, and something about pizza, and take your pick after that. But it was mainly the email thing.
So Donald Trump, two long damn years after his inauguration as the worst American leader in all of history, still took the time to loudly boost "mishandling classified information" to felony status. It was him, and he did it out of personal, meaningless spite. As always.
Fast forward to Donald Trump scuttling out of the White House exactly two years later, and what happens? The omnicrook and his family end up shipping an unknown quantity of document-filled boxes from the White House to Donald Trump's for-profit Florida house; the National Archives gets upset because government records are government property, not papers for Donald Trump to raffle off during Palm Beach buffets; government investigators dealing with the mess discover classified markings on some of the documents he took; and, well, here we are.
At first, Trump returned 15 boxes of documents to the National Archives. Reports from the FBI search indicate that the government took another dozen or so boxes with them when they left. That's nearly 30 boxes of stuff, and we know some of it is classified because federal investigators straight-up said, "We looked at the documents and saw the classified markings."
Now, there are a lot of rules about classified documents. I don't know all of them, and you probably don't either, but among the top rules are "when leaving your government job, do not take numerous classified national security documents with you and put them in your for-profit club." That's really sort of the top-line rule that shouldn't even need to be said. No putting them in your pockets. No putting them in with your private collectibles, like the government weather map you drew a fake forecast on. No tucking them alongside draft versions of self-pardons you never got around to signing, and absolutely no taking them to your foreign-agent-infested members-only club to be left in an unlocked room while you run off to New Jersey for a Saudi-funded sportswashing golf tournament.
That's very illegal, and thanks to Donald J. Trump's obsession with every single grudge he's ever had, it's now a felony. It's now something that will get you thrown in prison.
Oh—and that's also probably the reason Trump and whatever remaining lawyers are still so hard-up they're willing to work for him are probably not going to be showing us the delivered warrant papers anytime soon. The Trump-signed law is quite likely to be among those cited as justifications for authorizing the FBI’s search warrant.
Now that we're almost certain that the FBI search was related to classified documents Trump either refused to turn over or claimed he never had to begin with, speculation abounds as to what might happen next. One theory is that this is likely the end of it; the urgent government need was to get classified national security information out of Donald Trump's golf resort and back into government hands, and that's a whole different thing from coming back and putting Donald Trump in handcuffs for taking the documents in the first place.
That's depressingly likely, because if the federal government had the spine to put Donald Trump in handcuffs for any of his previous crimes, we wouldn't be here to begin with. It is quite likely that the FBI could, in their search for documents, discover that Eric Trump's bed consists entirely of a three-foot-high pile of cocaine with a pillow on top, and they still wouldn't charge anyone on the premises with a crime. That's how rich people's law works, and we all know it.
But this also would be a case of Donald Trump evading felony prosecution for provably and brazenly doing something he himself had made a felony to begin with, and ... I mean, come on. If you have that sort of karma lurking nearby, it's almost a separate crime not to invite it in. That's just shameful.
As to the question of whether Donald Trump should face federal prison time for mishandling classified documents in pretty much the most egregious example of mishandling classified documents you could possibly think of, then: Yes. Abso-freaking-lutely, Donald Trump should face felony indictment here.
For starters, it's the right thing to do. Nobody is above the law, and nobody is above even the laws that they themselves signed during one of their sneering multi-year snits. This isn't a case where prosecutors will have to grasp at straws to make their case. There's simply zero question that Trump took classified documents and put them in his, sigh, golf resort.
But just as importantly, it would be the funniest thing to ever happen in America in the last hundred years. No question. It would be absolutely freaking hilarious, and the nation needs this. We've gone through a pandemic. We've gone through terrorism. We've watched as the Supreme Court burned its own legitimacy with rulings that took their arguments from Newsmax conspiracy theories. We watched an attempted coup inside the U.S. Capitol.
After all that suffering, America deserves to see Donald Trump marched away in handcuffs for violating the law that he signed with his own hand as a Republican publicity effort to spite Hillary Clinton, two full years after she conceded her defeat.
America has earned this. We have earned this. It is, without question, time to ...
Lock Him Up.
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