The week that began Monday, August 8 provided such a neat encapsulation of the Trump scandal defense cycle that we shouldn’t let it drift into summer oblivion without comment. Each day brought a new development almost divinely designed to expose the instinctive nihilistic sycophancy of Trump’s defenders, as they repeatedly threw themselves in front of the Reality Bus in shock…SHOCKED!—end up under the wheels the next lunch time.
The only difference from the good old days of the reality TV presidency was that the protagonist’s efforts to launch a new outrage bait to steer the world of viewers away from the previous outrage did not succeed. He was stuck on a problem, continually spouting new excuses but unable to overturn the game board. Let’s review.
Late in the day, we learned that the FBI had executed a search warrant approved by a federal magistrate to search Trump’s club and residence at Mar-a-Lago. The immediate question for many sentient creatures over the past half-decade was, What investigation was the raid related to? Soon we learned it had to do with classified documents Trump had taken to Florida from the White House. Trump’s immediate reaction was to suggest, without proof, that President Joe Biden was behind the raid. The reaction of many of his fans, who all seemed to have received a memo copied from a wide variety of MAGA bootlicker accounts, was a version of:
If they can do that to a former president, imagine what they can do to you.
Well, if I was under investigation for federal crimes, I could expect a visit from the Federal Bureau of Investigation. That a former President may also be investigated on suspicion of breaking the law is not a profound disturbance of the Force, it is an indication that, according to our noble creed, no one is above the law. That night, however, the same people who railed against the defunding of the police demanded funding and/or abolition of the FBI. The main takeaway from MAGAland was that there was nothing there and no legitimate reason for research.
Jan. 6 MC-Slash-Olympic Sprinter Josh Hawley Cheer Rally call for Attorney General Merrick Garland must resign or be removed. He insisted that FBI Director Christopher Wray, appointed by a certain D. Trump, be removed from his post. Indeed, the FBI serving a search warrant was “an unprecedented assault on democratic standards and the rule of law.” And Hawley would know.
His Senate colleague, Ted Cruz, helped to start up calls to “RAISING THE WARRANT,” although he admitted the search would only constitute political persecution if federal authorities did not produce evidence that Trump was hoarding documents with serious national security implications. (For what it’s worth, I was also saying they better produce the goods at the time, and they still do.) Also for what it’s worth, Trump could have immediately released his copy of the warrant – and the inventory of items taken, which he also had a copy – at any time. point after the search.
The was also the beginnings of “the president can declassify everything”, which is not strictly true and also does not say whether Trump Actually declassified these documents. We were also entitled to line that the FBI had mostly recovered boxes of trinkets like cocktail napkins and golf balls.
We came, intermittently, to the new topic of discussion: the evidence has been planted. Trump started saying that he and his lawyers had not been allowed to watch the search “to see what they were doing, taking or, hopefully not, ‘planting'”. But then his lawyer, Christina Bobb, said on Real America’s Voice that the Trump family watched the raid from a distance. At this point you will notice that the documents were not important, were magically declassified if important, and were also covered up by the FBI. Rand Paul also pitched this last idea on TV, while another Trump lawyer, Alina Habba, also said on Fox News, “I’m afraid they planted something.” Again, no supporting evidence. Just normal avocado stuff.
Elsewhere, Trump started shouting that Barack HUSSEIN Obama brought 30 million documents – so it was 33 million – to Chicago after his presidency, and surely some were bad like Trump’s? “How many of them were nuclear? ” He asked. “The word is, a lot!” The National Archives and Records Administration quickly released a statement that (twist!) was fabulously false, and these documents are in the possession of NARA.
Fox News star Brian Kilmeade replaces Tucker Carlson, put a doctored photo on the screen which claimed to show the judge who signed the warrant, Bruce Reinhardt, with Epstein’s accomplice Ghislaine Maxwell. Kilmeade would later say it was “joking” – you know, a joke where you insinuate that a federal judge is a pedophile when he is already the subject of a deluge of anti-Semitic threats who forced his synagogue to cancel weekend services.
The news was not good for Trump. New revelations indicated that the documents in question were quite serious. The New York Times reported that they included “special access programs”, a kind of super top secret, while the Washington Post shared that some had to do with nuclear weapons. Trump responded with a new line, asking why-oh-why the FBI didn’t just interrogate for deeds. The flying monkeys came down to complain about why Mar-a-Lago was looted—INVADED!— when the Feds could have just submitted a nice request to retrieve the documents.
“My attorneys and representatives were cooperating fully and a very good relationship had been established,” Trump said on Truth Social. “The government could have had anything it wanted, if we had it.”
But later that day, the Time reported that Trump received a subpoena months earlier as the Feds sought to recover the documents without a raid. (In January 2022, the National Archives separately picked up 15 boxes of material.) Justice Department officials also met with Trump’s lawyers at Mar-a-Lago in June and reviewed some of the documents and the configuration of Security. A look at the latter prompted them to ask the people at Trump to put a padlock on the storage room. One of Trump’s lawyers signed a written statement while all classified material had been returned to the feds.
But then Attorney General Merrick Garland addressed the situation and agreed to release the warrant, and the accompanying inventory of seized items was soon made public as well. It included 11 sets of classified documents. Maybe it looks like they weren’t “fully cooperating”? We also learned that the search was related to an investigation into three specific crimes: violation of the Espionage Act, obstruction, and theft or destruction of government documents. Curiously, none of these potential charges would depend on the documents in question being classified.
At this point, we heard that there was nothing important in the boxes (until there was); the rule of law was threatened because a former president was under investigation (for possibly breaking the law); and the documents were concealed by the FBI. Also, Obama. But wait, what about this whole idea that they had been magically declassified by the president? It had been on the back burner all week, but Trump turned to it when needed as the weekend approached and every other excuse had fallen away. The previously “planted” documents were suddenly legit, and he had declassified them. In fact, Trump announced — incredibly — that he had a standing order in place to declassify all documents he brought into the White House residence.
The very fact that these documents were present at Mar-a-Lago means that they could not be classified. As we can all understand, everyone ends up having to bring their work home from time to time. American presidents are no different. President Trump, in order to prepare for the next day’s work, often brought documents, including classified documents, to the residence. He had a standing order that documents removed from the Oval Office brought to the residence were deemed declassified the moment he removed them.
Yes, the president who made 285 visits to a golf club during his tenure was at work. Mr. Trump also has a bridge to sell you. By the way, if this is all true, why didn’t he just fix it all by turning over the documents when the Feds asked for them? Why does he need (in this formulation, “formerly”) classified documents in his basement?
At this point, another excuse started coming in: Trump didn’t pack the boxes himself! (Granted, hardly anyone thinks he was there with duct tape.) He didn’t know what was in there! Again, why did he refuse to return them when repeatedly asked?
But it was a prelude to the ultimate excuse, a shameless special: Trump was so caught up in the “chaotic times” of January 2021 that he didn’t have time for that sort of thing. Fox News kicked things off on Friday:
NBC News has arrived with a report the next day which seemed to extend this reasoning:
When Donald Trump finally realized, in the twilight of his presidency, that he wouldn’t be living in the White House for another four years, he had a problem: He had barely packed his bags and needed to move quickly…to certification by Congress of Biden’s victory on Jan. 6, 2021, Trump acted like he won the election — he didn’t — and did little to ensure a smooth transition, according to the source close to Trump’s decision who spoke on the condition of anonymity due to the investigation into the records. The source said it wasn’t until after Jan. 6 – two weeks before Biden was sworn in – that he began to make serious preparations to leave the White House. And the process was a mess.
If you follow at home, the idea is that Trump was so caught up in his autogolpe that he didn’t have time to deal with all that classified stuff. He only thought of leaving after the failure of his coup! You can’t blame him for then driving to Florida with top secret information and stashing it in his basement!
But wait, there was still time for another lick to jump on another member:
Alright, man. Jump in front of this bus. I’m sure Captain Trump will swerve to avoid you.
Jack Holmes is a senior editor at Esquire, where he covers politics and sports. He also hosts Useful Context, a series of videos.
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