More reporting on the FBI raid on former President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago club suggests the FBI was after classified documents Trump may have illegally retained.
The backstory: Early this year, Trump returned 15 boxes of material he had taken from the White House, after "several months of back and forth between his lawyers and the National Archives," The New York Times reported then. But authorities believe he still illegally kept some documents, and this is reportedly the root of yesterday's raid.
"People familiar with the investigation said that Justice Department and FBI officials traveled to Mar-a-Lago this spring" and "spoke to Trump's representatives, inspected the storage space where documents were held, and expressed concern that the former president or people close to him still had items that should be in government custody," reports The Washington Post. "By that point, officials at the National Archives had been aggressively contacting people in Trump's orbit to demand the return of documents they believed were covered by the Presidential Records Act."
The raid: On Tuesday, the FBI took about 12 boxes from a basement storage area at Mar-a-Lago, according to Trump lawyer Christina Bobb. She indicated that the FBI's search warrant said they were investigating violations of the Presidential Records Act and laws regarding classified material.
If this is all true, it suggests Trump's team may very well have brought this on themselves by refusing to turn over things they were supposed to turn over. But it also suggests the Justice Department is possibly being a bit petty; unless there was some imminent danger from Trump having whatever documents he's suspected to have kept, raiding Mar-a-Lago to obtain them seems drastic.
"Document disputes are typically settled in negotiation, and that is how Mr. Trump's disagreement with the National Archives had been proceeding," notes the Wall Street Journal. Whatever disputes remained over materials Trump still had, "it's far from clear why this couldn't be settled cooperatively, or at most with a subpoena."
Team Trump reacts: Trump spokesman Taylor Budowich told the Post that the raid has "unified and grown the entire conservative movement."
Perhaps that's an overstatement, but it has certainly invigorated it by lending credence to Trump's ongoing narrative about the extreme lengths to which Democrats will go to stop him.
Trump adviser Jason Miller told the Post that "it furthers [Trump's] inclination to run and galvanizes the Republican base on his behalf."
Republicans have been running wild with the speculation—like suggesting that the FBI may have planted evidence—and concocting fan fic that absolves Trump of all blame and ropes in his fans as part of the persecuted.
"Trump's crime was, and always has been, that he threatened The Regime's power and privilege—in so doing, representing tens of millions of Americans who The Regime considers an impediment to its total control, and who it holds in utter contempt," writes Claremont Institute fellow Ben Weingarten in an especially florid example of the genre.
Another perspective: Not all conservatives are drinking the Kool-Aid about this being a sign the U.S. has become a banana republic.
"The FBI's serving a search warrant on Donald Trump's residence is not — in spite of everything being said about it — unprecedented," writes Kevin D. Williamson at National Review. "The FBI serves search warrants on homes all the time. Donald Trump is a former president, not a mystical sacrosanct being. If we really believe, as we say we believe, that this is a republic, that nobody is above the law, that the presidency is just a temporary executive-branch office rather than a quasi-royal entitlement, then there is nothing all that remarkable about the FBI serving a warrant on a house in Florida."
David French warns against assuming either "corruption or incompetence" or "integrity or competence" from federal law enforcement agencies.
Meanwhile, Democrats are speculating that classified documents aren't the end of this.
After all, Trump's team hasn't shown the search warrant, only characterized it. It's possible that the FBI is investigating something bigger, possibly related to the Justice Department's grand jury probe into Trump's role in the January 6 Capitol riot.
The feedback loop: Democrats have been betting that keeping January 6 front and center could help them in the upcoming midterm elections and that criminally prosecuting Trump may help them in the 2024 presidential race.
But Democrats "may also be wrong in their calculation about how a prosecution would affect Mr. Trump's futures" suggests the editorial board of the Journal:
The FBI search alone makes it more likely that Mr. Trump will run again for President, if only to vindicate himself. He will run as a martyr, and even Republicans who want to turn the page on the former President may be repelled by what they see as a political prosecution.
All of this risks compounding the baleful pattern of the last six years. Mr. Trump is accused of violating political norms—sometimes fairly, sometimes not—and the left violates norms in response. Polarization increases, and public faith in institutions and the peaceful settlement of political difference erodes further.
This is the essential tragedy of the Trump era. The man ran on being an outsider who was hated by establishment types of all stripes and on accusing Democrats of lawlessness. Then he took power and acted in shady and borderline lawless ways himself. The left understandably seized on this—while often stating the case hyperbolically. All of which fueled sometimes justified but often unjustified complaints from Trump and his team that oh, look, the lawless Democrats are at it again, further hardening the stance of avid Trump supporters that anything he is being investigated for is a political farce. And this, in turn, grows Trump's original appeal while giving more cover for him to act in corrupt or lawless ways…which leads to more Democratic action against him. It's a terrible feedback loop in which it feels like we may be forever trapped.
Americans want more political options. In new polling data from the Pew Research Center, nearly half of young adults surveyed said they "wish there were more parties to choose from."
Among the public overall, 39% say the following describes their views extremely or very well: "I often wish there were more political parties to choose from in this country." Another 32% say the statement describes their views somewhat well, while 28% say it describes their views not too well or not at all well.
Notably, Democrats are more likely than Republicans to express a desire for more political parties: 38% of those who identify with the Democratic Party say this describes their views extremely or very well, compared with 21% of Republicans. Yet it is among independents and others who do not identify with a party that the sentiment is most pronounced: 48% say it describes their views extremely or very well, including 48% of those who lean Republican and 53% of those who lean Democratic.
Overall, interest in having more political parties is higher among younger Americans than older adults. Nearly half of those ages 18 to 49 say they often wish there were more parties to choose from (47% say it describes their views extremely or very well); that compares with 35% of those ages 50 to 64 and just 23% of those 65 and older.
Neither party is very popular with the public: Roughly four-in-ten Americans (41%) have a very or somewhat favorable view of the Democratic Party, while even fewer (37%) have a favorable impression of the Republican Party.
Over the past several decades, the share of Americans who express unfavorable opinions of both major parties has grown: In 1994, just 6% of the public had an unfavorable view of the Republican and Democratic parties. Today, about a quarter (27%) have negative views of both parties. This view is especially pronounced among partisan leaners: 44% of Republican-leaning independents – and an identical share of Democratic leaners – currently have negative views of both parties.
State and city pensions are still screwed:
Funds that manage the retirement savings of teachers, firefighters and police officers returned a median minus 8.9% for that three-month period, their worst quarterly performance since the early months of the global pandemic.
— Alejandra Cancino (@WriterAlejandra) August 10, 2022
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