FBI raid could accelerate Trump presidential announcement
“There are more and more people telling President Trump to announce right now. He’s got people calling him,” said one person in Trump’s orbit.
There is an increasingly widely held belief among Trump’s friends and hangers-on that the energy and outrage generated by the federal search is the perfect springboard for an announcement in the months before the midterm elections in November.
“In the days after the raid we saw all fundraising records broken. This isn’t my first rodeo. I know what the signs look like,” said Michael Caputo, a former assistant secretary of public affairs in the Department of Health and Human Services in 2020, who remains chummy with Trump.
Since the raid, Trump’s political action committee has raked in millions of dollars in new fundraising, the Washington Post reported. His Save America Political Action Committee had reported more than $100 million cash on hand before the raid, federal filings show.
Caputo, who last spoke with Trump at the Conservative Political Actions Conference in Dallas earlier this month, said he used to favor a more cautious approach, but his calculus — and advice — changed after the raid.
“My advice for the president [before] was you want elections to be about midterms and Joe Biden, not Donald Trump, but now with this raid Donald Trump is on the ballot no matter what happens in the midterms,” Caputo said.
Trump so far is approaching the matter cautiously, and not inclined to rush into an announcement, instead preferring to let the news coverage of the FBI raid unfold without his interference, other confidantes said.
Dems’ war on ex-President Donald Trump is without precedent
According to Michael Goodwin (New York Post)…
When you cross the Rubicon, there is no going back. Democrats are getting very close to that fateful moment.
Their dream to indict Donald Trump has turned into determination, putting them on a collision course with history. No president has ever been prosecuted after leaving office, with even Richard Nixon escaping that infamy after Watergate because of how it would tear America apart.
Yet day by day, the evidence shows Dems have liberated themselves from such concerns and are resolved that this time will be different. The number and fervor of their army of prosecutors reveal a contagious fever, and it often appears they are competing to be the first to file charges.
Or will the first shot come from Georgia, where the Fulton County district attorney is using a special-purpose grand jury to investigate “election interference” in the state by Trump and his associates after the 2020 election?
Or maybe the first charges will come from the Manhattan district attorney’s long-running probe into whether Trump broke tax laws by the way he valued his buildings. Having secured a guilty plea from a top company official regarding his personal tax scheme, probers are desperate to get him to turn on Trump.
These cases raise concerns about conflicts of interest and selective prosecution, but the party’s peanut gallery is blind to everything except the goal. Seeing the Bad Orange Man in handcuffs is a porn-like fantasy for many on the left.
The fact that an indictment would be a hit with many voters can be seen as a motivating factor for prosecutors. In the midterms, enthusiasm could help Dems stave off a red wave, and on a personal level, charges could do wonders for the prosecutors’ careers.
Take the case of Daniel Goldman, the lead counsel in the House’s first impeachment of Trump, the ginned-up Ukraine farce. Goldman, a Levi Strauss heir, is running for Congress in Manhattan and has spent $4 million of his own money, dwarfing the spending of his primary rivals.
That’s normally the sort of thing The New York Times hates, but in its endorsement of Goldman, the paper cited his impeachment role and his fatuous claim he was dedicated to trying to “protect and defend our democracy.”
So while an indictment of Trump would gladden the little hearts of the Dems’ media handmaidens, what would it do to the country as a whole? With political violence and disorder surging, there is a possibility that charges would be like throwing gasoline on a fire.
The Trump faithful
Tens of millions of Trump’s supporters are sticking with him, warts and all, because they believe he is the only person in politics who speaks for them and understands their alienation from an elite establishment. Seeing him arrested, especially on borderline grounds, could make their estrangement permanent and create more dangerous rifts in our already-fractured society. Some might become violent militants like hundreds did on Jan. 6.
There is also concern the unprecedented step would usher in the Third World habit of each administration prosecuting its predecessor. President Biden made it known months ago he was frustrated Garland hadn’t prosecuted Trump, so, presto, it’s happening.
Why shouldn’t the next attorney general under a GOP president prosecute Biden?
In fact, there is already more clear evidence that Biden participated in and benefitted from his son Hunter’s corrupt foreign business than there was against Trump when a special counsel was appointed to probe his ties to Russia.
And how is it kosher that Garland, appointed by Biden, is permitted to hound his boss’ potential 2024 opponent?
The immediate reaction to charges against Trump would depend on the facts and how they are obtained and presented. If they are clear and convincing and, most important, involve misconduct large enough to justify the break with history, they could earn a consensus of support.
That was the test I applied to the Mar-a-Lago raid, which Garland flunked. He said little and explained nothing, and is fighting to keep secret the crucial affidavit that led a magistrate to approve the search.
He also let anonymous officials spread tall tales about confidential documents Trump supposedly had. The Washington Post claim that the papers involved “nuclear weapons” had all the hyperbole of the Russia, Russia, Russia scam.
The pattern suggests Garland doesn’t understand or care he is playing with fire. His claim that he’s playing it by the book is absurd because there is no book on indicting a former president.
That’s not an accident.
On the final day of his presidency, Bill Clinton avoided a criminal charge in a deal where he admitted to independent counsel Robert Ray he lied under oath about Monica Lewinsky.
“I think it’s a collateral benefit to the country that the new president be given a fresh start if that can be achieved,” Ray told The Washington Post.
“The best interests of the country would be achieved by letting the past be the past.”
Ford the peacekeeper
President Gerald Ford expressed a similar sentiment. In his 1974 inaugural address after Nixon resigned, he declared that “our long national nightmare is over.”
Nearly a month later, as Nixon’s legal fate was unresolved, Ford issued a “full, free and absolute pardon.”
In explaining why, Ford cited the fear that “ugly passions would again be aroused. And our people would again be polarized in their opinions. And the credibility of our free institutions of government would again be challenged at home and abroad.”
He regarded Nixon as a friend, but it was not Nixon’s fate that concerned him.
“My conscience tells me clearly and certainly that I cannot prolong the bad dreams that continue to reopen a chapter that is closed. My conscience tells me that only I, as president, have the constitutional power to firmly shut and seal this book. My conscience tells me it is my duty, not merely to proclaim domestic tranquility but to use every means that I have to insure it.”
Of course, Trump’s circumstances are different in many ways, especially that he could serve another term as president. Much of the prosecution passion is driven by the desire to make him ineligible to run again because many Dems fear he would win.
Finally, there is also the chance that the public view of decisions made now will change over time. The Nixon pardon was instantly unpopular — Ford’s approval rating declined by 21% overnight, with 53% opposed to the pardon, a factor in Ford’s defeat by Jimmy Carter two years later.
But by 1982, Gallup found the nation was evenly split for and against the decision. By 1986, the last time the question was asked, a majority of Americans said they supported Ford’s decision, with 54% approving against 39% disapproving.
Knowing how far to go when going too far
Raiding Donald Trump’s private residence without compelling justification, the FBI violated Gertrude Stein’s rule about knowing how far to go when going too far.
According to Roger Kimball (amgreatness.com)…
I am pretty sure that I have had occasion to quote Gertrude Stein’s wise advice for the aspiring avant-garde. It is important, she said, to know how far to go when going too far.
This sage admonition applies just as much to practitioners in the realm of government and law enforcement as it does to those in the arts. An illustration of how pertinent Stein’s advice is to the former is the still-unfolding aftermath of the FBI’s raid on President Trump’s residence in Palm Beach on August 8.
Everyone instantly knew that the swaggering agency had gone too far. But that had happened often in the past. Just ask Michael Flynn or Roger Stone or Peter Navarro. The FBI often goes too far. It’s what they do. But in raiding Mar-a-Lago, did they go too far when going too far?
The FBI clearly underestimated the public’s reaction to their unprecedented violation of a former president’s privacy. According to a recent Rasmussen poll, more than 50 percent of likely voters agree with the statement “there is a group of politicized thugs at the top of the FBI that are using the FBI as Joe Biden’s personal Gestapo.” I agree with it myself.
Question for Attorney General Merrick Garland and FBI Director Christopher Wray: Was it worth it? You carted off Donald Trump’s passports and other documents, and maybe, as you did with the journalist Sharyl Attkisson, you also bugged Trump’s computers or planted incriminating evidence in Melania’s underwear drawer.
Garland and Wray don’t know the answer to that question yet. They are holding their breath. It’s been worth it in the past. The Russian collusion delusion? That was made up out of whole cloth to destroy Donald Trump. The utterly fictitious nature of the gambit was eventually revealed, but so slowly and in such piecemeal fashion that the damage to the agency, and to the regime generally, was minimal. Even the people guilty of crimes—Andrew McCabe, Kevin Clinesmith, Michael Sussmann, and others—all walked.
Clinesmith actually altered an email in order to open a FISA investigation on Carter Page, thereby providing the Feds with a backdoor into the nerve center of the entire Trump campaign. The original email said that Page was a CIA asset. Clinesmith inserted the word “not,” thus providing the specious grounds for the whole Trump-is-a-Putin-Puppet meme. He got probation (!) and was last in the news, page B-78, when his license to practice law was quietly restored.
My point is that despite loads of negative publicity, whenever they overstep the bounds of propriety (which is often: see “The FBI’s Bad Apples” for a summary) the noise quickly abates, and the fickle public moves on to something else.
Will they this time? The jury is still out. I think that Wray, Garland, and their puppet masters should keep their getaway cars gassed up. The Washington Post, CNN, the New York Times, and other megaphones of the regime consensus have been excusing the raid, explaining, or at least appearing to explain, how it was all business as usual, just standard procedure, and besides we had “probable cause” or whatever that Trump was sheltering nuclear secrets in his sock drawer, blah, blah, blah.
But all that blustering circling of the wagons looks pretty clumsy and, when you come right down to it, pathetic next to the widespread headlines calling for an investigation, defunding, if not the complete disbanding of the FBI. Back in 2016, some clever, tech-savvy wag put together a video clip of disgraced former FBI chief James Comey outlining to music some of the many crimes Hillary Clinton had committed by storing hundreds of secret, top secret, and classified emails on her private home server interspersed with belligerent commentary by Hillary “What-Difference-At-This-Point-Does-It-Make” Clinton herself. No “reasonable prosecutor,” said Comey, would think of indicting Clinton, but what he meant by “reasonable” was “in-the-pocket-of-Democrats.”
That clip has made a big-time comeback along with various and sundry demands from members of Congress that the FBI be investigated. Maybe that video artist will reprise his talents and make a clip about the FBI’s treatment of Hunter Biden’s laptop, cutting back and forth between the sordid clips contained therein and religious images with the legend “Noli me tangere” affixed. We’ll have to wait.
But right now, everywhere one turns, the FBI is the news of the day. Frank Miele, writing for Real Clear Investigations, cut to the chase when he observed that nowadays “FBI” is understood to stand for “Federal Bureau of Intimidation.” And that, of course, is what the heavy-breathing raid on Mar-a-Lago was all about. The pretext was some documents wanted by the National Archives. But Trump’s people were already dealing with those requests. The raid was a show of force, directed as much toward you and me as to Trump. “Essentially,” as Miele put it, “what the FBI was saying is ‘We know where you live, and we aren’t afraid to come for you.’”
So we have seen. But here’s the thing. The FBI, like the rest of the hypertrophied, self-engorging government apparat, is a powerful and minatory thing. As such, it is Leviathan that would have been abominated by the founders of this country, who thought government ought to be vigorous but unobtrusive and as small as possible.
Joe Biden memorably said that if you wanted to challenge the government, you would need “F-15s and maybe some nuclear weapons.” He was roundly and rightly mocked for that exercise in smug complacency. The mockery was right because it treated the threat implicit in his remark with some portion of the contempt it deserved. The mockery was widespread because the ultimate source of the government’s, and hence the FBI’s, power is its legitimacy, a quality calibrated not by the number of armed SWAT teams one has in one’s pocket but by the consent of the governed, a quaint idea of which wizened functionaries like Merrick Garland and Christopher Wray are doubtless innocent but which will show its force and fury come November.
A friend of mine suggested that when the Republicans sweep into the House with a commanding majority in January, one of their first acts should be to cut the FBI’s budget by 10 percent. I approved the sentiment but replied that 10 percent was much too little. The agency should be cut by at least 25 percent, a first step toward the goal of abolishing that rotten institution, which long ago degenerated into the enforcement arm of the regime. I suspect that in raiding Trump’s private residence without compelling justification, the FBI violated Gertrude Stein’s golden rule about knowing how far to go when going too far. They will, I predict, pay the price, and the country will be a freer, safer, less intimidated place.