FBI’s Mar-a-Lago raid may give Republicans a midterms boost
Anyone who thinks that someone knows what happened at the residence of former President Donald Trump last week and the reasons behind the FBI’s raid on Mar-a-Lago is wrong.
On Aug. 8, heavily armed FBI agents with a search warrant raided Trump’s resort in Palm Beach, Florida, leaving Americans puzzled by what they were looking for and what spurred the raid. On the same evening, the 45th US president said in a statement that his residence was under siege, had been raided and was occupied by a large group of FBI agents.
Trump added: “Nothing like this has ever happened to a president of the United States before. After working and cooperating with the relevant government agencies, this unannounced raid on my home was not necessary or appropriate.” He described the events as a “weaponization” of the justice system aimed at preventing him from running for president in 2024.
It took a few days for the US Department of Justice to shed light on what happened. On Thursday, Attorney General Merrick Garland spoke to the public for the first time, confirming that a federal court authorized the search warrant upon the required finding of probable cause, revealing that he “personally approved” the unprecedented decision to seek a search warrant against the former president.
The warrant revealed three severe federal crimes that the Justice Department is investigating: Obstruction of justice, criminal handling of government records, and violations of the Espionage Act. Connecting a former US president with espionage raised many concerns, paving the way for speculation and the spreading of false or misleading information.
The FBI agents seized boxes of material, including documents marked as “top secret, secret, and confidential,” binders of photos and handwritten notes. The Washington Post reported on Thursday that classified documents relating to nuclear weapons were among the things FBI agents were looking for at Mar-a-Lago.
The slow flow of unclear information raised questions on the nature and timing of the investigation, with the midterm elections approaching. “We started by talking about 15 boxes, now it is 35. We started by talking about the Presidential Records Act, now we’re talking about stolen nuclear secrets and reams of classified data. We started with GOP rage, now we’re talking Espionage Act and obstruction. Quite the trendline,” attorney and New York Times bestselling author Seth Abramson posted on Twitter.
The former president reiterated that, prior to him leaving office, he declassified all the documents that were found in his residence. However, it is so far unknown whether the written records to prove his claims are available.
The FBI raid has politically boosted Trump within the Republican Party. Several key politicians condemned the raid and asked for more information. Popular Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who is expected to make a bid to run for president in 2024, considered the unprecedented move a “political strategy.” He said on his Twitter account: “The raid of MAL is another escalation in the weaponization of federal agencies against the regime’s political opponents, while people like Hunter Biden get treated with kid gloves.”
It seems that the raid has mobilized Republican voters to participate in upcoming elections, according to a survey conducted by the Trafalgar Group/Convention of States Action. While 76 percent of Republican voters believed that Trump’s political enemies were behind the FBI raid, 83 percent of them said that the events had increased their motivation to cast their vote in the November midterms.
The slow flow of unclear information raised questions on the nature and timing of the investigation.
The case has not yet begun and the facts will gradually emerge, which might significantly change the American political equation. Only time will tell.
Those who believed the silly rumor circulating on social media platforms that the former president had revealed the nuclear codes in a fundraising email and could launch a nuclear attack from his Florida resort can relax. Simply put, Trump’s codes expired at noon on Joe Biden’s inauguration day, Jan. 20, 2021, when the new president’s codes became active, while it also takes more than one person to launch such an attack.
- Dalia Al-Aqidi is a senior fellow at the Center for Security Policy. Twitter: @DaliaAlAqidi