The FBI got a federal warrant to hunt for documents by getting a judge to agree that there was likely criminality afoot, then showed it to the Secret Service agents guarding Trump's house, were allowed to enter, and then took the documents they came for. Oh, they apparently "broke" open a "hotel"-style safe, which might be a euphemism for "shimmied it open with a credit card"—of course Trump would rely on a "hotel"-style safe. Of course he would.
But there's nothing about the search that appears to have been unusual except that it was directed, for the first time in history, at a former U.S. president. Which is unusual, to be sure, but we've also never had a previous circumstance in which federal authorities saw, with their own eyes, that a former president had taken classified documents to his for-profit golf club, and multiple government agencies’ attempts to get them back were never before rebuffed by a rich dude with plenty of money for lawyers but half the common sense God gave to a Florida mosquito. "Unusual" doesn’t begin to cover that.
The FBI has a long history of not commenting on ongoing criminal investigations—unless they involve Hillary Clinton and it's almost election day—so we're not likely to get an explanation of what agents were looking for from anyone in government. This also has Republicans steaming mad, and they quickly piped up with demands that the FBI break that confidentiality and explain which of Donald Trump's many, many, many suspected crimes the search warrant was targeting. They want to see the justification for the warrant, and they want it now.
Having the uncooked breadstick that Donald Trump tried to murder via an angry mob huff that investigating criminality by his coup-organizing former boss "undermines" confidence in government is, well … certainly in character.
Pence and other Republicans aren't likely to get their wish. We all know how this game is played, and if a Department of Justice spokesman strolled out and said, "And here are the specific crimes we believe Donald Trump committed and our evidence for them," then Mike Pence and Sen. Lindsey Graham and a great deal of other top-tier Trump sycophants would be howling in outrage at a government agency improperly announcing an investigation.
But there's one person who could clear this up in about ten minutes, and that person is Donald Trump. The FBI won't be releasing information about what they were looking for, but the warrant served to Donald Trump has, written on it, a list of the particular federal laws a judge agreed were probably broken. Investigators had to convince the judge that evidence of a specific crime would almost certainly be found in Donald Trump's house, and if Donald Trump wants to tell us what particular crimes those were, he can do that right now.
Well? We're waiting.
What's odd is that Donald Trump has an extremely big mouth, as we all know too well, and has never been able to keep quiet about government investigations into any of his various suspected crimes. His silence (so far) here is deafening. He doesn't want to say what laws the FBI convinced a federal judge he broke.
You'd think Mike Pence, of all people, would respect that—but no. Republicans are quite certain they want to know!
Fortunately for the rest of us, there have been enough leaks to various news outlets that it now seems solid to say that this is about classified "national security" documents Donald Trump took from the White House at the end of his term and has, for baffling turdly reasons knowable only to Donald Trump, refused to give back.
The circumstances here are truly bizarre: Somewhere around the first week of June, Justice Department investigators showed up at Mar-a-Lago to confer with Trump's lawyers about the multiple boxes of White House documents taken from the White House that federal law requires the National Archives take possession of. During those conversations, investigators reportedly saw for themselves documents with "Top Secret" markings. That resulted in some conversation that ended with the room later being "padlocked" for security reasons, and then?
Well, we don't know. It's now August, however, and we can reasonably deduce from that that either Trump refused to turn over the classified documents investigators saw or that federal agents had near-absolute proof that other classified documents still remained on Donald Trump’s property as of yesterday morning.
It seems almost certain that this is about the fate of those classified national security documents, because it seems implausible that an ultra-cautious federal government still making few hints that they're even considering charging Donald Trump with crimes for an attempted coup that left multiple people dead would have sought a federal warrant targeting Trump for making off with knickknacks, "love letters" from North Korea or other White House errata. It was assured to result in a nationwide political meltdown, and it even seems possible that it could result in domestic terror. Confiscating mere keepsakes would hardly seem worth that risk.
We don’t have to speculate, though. If Donald Trump chooses to publicly release the warrant documents served at Mar-a-Lago, it should provide enough information to know whether federal agents were looking for stolen White House spoons or for classified national security documents that Donald Trump or other family members made off with for lets-say-unknown reasons. So he could really step up and do all of us a favor here, if he feels like it!
Again: A search warrant being served at a former president's combination luxury resort and home may be unprecedented in modern American history, but there had to have been a whole series of events before this in which a timid Department of Justice bent over backward to avoid it. If this is about classified national security documents, Donald Trump could have diffused the whole situation back in June by telling his lawyers to give up anything with classified markings. Or, if the information was so sensitive that his lawyers shouldn't themselves be laying eyes on them, arranging a secure handover of those documents at some later time.
For some reason, none of that happened, and federal investigators still had ironclad evidence that Donald Trump was still keeping classified national intelligence documents In His Damn Florida Golf Resort two full months after investigators personally saw them there. Possibly being kept in a safe. Possibly not being kept in a safe.
It's fully possible that Trump, a malignant narcissist whose arrogance is uncontrollable, sincerely believed he could bluff or ignore his way through a federal investigation of stolen classified documents being delivered to his home and wedding-hosting venue. It's very possible Trump told his lawyers that he was going to keep those documents, for lets-say-unknowable future use, and instructed them to stonewall investigators. It's quite possible he never believed the whole federal government, multiple portions of which are still controlled by his own appointees, would dare lift a finger to enforce laws against the likes of him.
And it's possible he bet wrong, and that no matter how cautious federal and state investigators are being in probes of his at-this-point countless other crimes, the government believed there was something in his possession that required raiding his house over rather than just letting go. Something that he absolutely should not be using as a bragging-rights placemat during lavish dinners with international guests.
If Donald Trump wants to show us the warrant, it's possible that alone would provide enough evidence to clear some of this up. If he wants to.
Uncooked Breadstick has a point here, after all. The American people certainly have an interest in learning what specific crime Donald Trump is suspected of that's so substantial that even this Justice Department felt they needed to take action.
We are all very, very eager to find out.
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