The FBI Searches Mar-a-Lago: Point and Counterpoint

It’s happened but not here.

In other democratic countries, political leaders can and do face criminal investigations and trials for their alleged misdeeds. South Korea impeached and tried then-President Park Geun-hye in 2017 and 2018 over corruption allegations, for which she served five years in prison out of a more-than-twenty-year sentence. A French jury convicted former President Nicolas Sarkozy last year on campaign-finance charges, effectively ending his political career. The legal troubles of former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi are so extensive that they defy casual description; Wikipedia dedicates an entire article to them with more than two dozen subsections [The New Republic].

To avoid it happening here, the Department of Justice bent way over backwards to give the former president the opportunity to return classified documents that didn’t belong to him. After months of discussions with his lawyers, the former president returned a vanload of documents. Believing the former president hadn’t fully complied, a US Attorney and the FBI convinced a judge to approve a search warrant. The search revealed that there were indeed more documents that should have been returned. Except for the hysterical reaction of right-wing pundits and politicians, that would have been the end of the story unless the former president’s lawyers challenged the search warrant in court or prosecutors decided to pursue the matter. However, in all fairness, there is another view, as this piece from an Australian magazine clearly states: 

We are certainly no fans of D____ T____ – let’s make that clear from the outset. But yesterday’s raid by the FBI on the home of a former president sets a dangerous precedent.

A precedent which now means that anyone who evades taxes, attempts to undermine an election, sexually assaults women, manipulates the value of their assets, uses state resources to enrich themselves or aids and abets the overthrow of a democratically elected government will be subject to investigation.

Is that the world we want to live in? Where anyone accused of insurrection can be subject to questioning from law enforcement officers?

It’s a slippery slope. Before we know it, regular citizens accused of defrauding the government, concealing evidence, manipulating financial documents, tampering with witnesses or perverting the course of justice will also be held to account.

Or to put it another way, if we simply shrug our shoulders and fail to question the actions of the FBI, soon any old Joe Citizen who is suspected of ripping classified government documents into small pieces and flushing them down the toilet will be obliged to answer to law enforcement, as well as their plumber.

If we don’t ask the hard questions about the potential motives of the FBI now, soon any one of us who buries our ex-wife in a small grave at the side of their golf course in order to gain a tax concession will be treated with suspicion.

As T____ supporters put it so clearly yesterday, if this can happen to a President, it could happen to anyone who has committed insurrection, assault or fraud. That’s a chilling thought.

We are on new ground here. As D____ T____ himself made clear, this is the first time a former president’s home has been raided. Proof, if ever we needed it, that the FBI shamefully only targets people who it considers to have committed a crime. Who gave FBI director Chris Wray that authority?

As we made clear earlier, we’re certainly not T____ supporters. But in today’s partisan world, it would be easy to fall into the trap of cheering on the FBI’s actions, without taking a step back to look at the bigger picture. If T____ goes to jail, it opens the door for every lying, corrupt, perverted piece of shit to go to jail too. Is that what we want?