by Paul du Quenoy
“There’s so much we don’t know!” says any liberal losing an argument about the dramatic FBI raid last week on Mar-a-Lago, Donald Trump’s Palm Beach residence and private club.
There are, indeed, some things that we do not know, but what we do know is already quite revealing. We know that the raid – which involved 30 FBI agents and three Justice Department lawyers – lasted over nine hours and was by day’s end reclassified as a “search” by all government agencies and the entire legacy media. We know that this supposed “search” was personally ordered not by FBI Director Christopher Wray, but by Attorney General Merrick Garland, a highly partisan Biden Administration appointee who has implied that parents objecting to critical race theory in public schools are domestic terrorists, and who refused to provide home security protection to Supreme Court justices in the majority of the recent ruling to overturn Roe v. Wade.
We also know that Garland and all other administration officials remained silent about his involvement for three days. We know that President Biden has refused to answer any question or address any detail of the raid while vacationing at a $20 million property in South Carolina.
We know that Garland described the “search” as “narrow in scope,” but that the warrant authorizing it permitted the seizure of any document produced between January 20, 2017, and January 20, 2021 – that is, any document produced at any time during the Trump presidency. We know that three of Trump’s passports were seized, despite not being mentioned in the warrant, and that the FBI has now claimed this was an “error” and has returned them.
We know that the judge who signed the warrant, Bruce Reinhardt, is a partisan Democrat who publicly disparaged Trump during his presidency, contributed significant sums to Barack Obama’s presidential campaigns, and represented criminally charged employees of the late sex offender Jeffrey Epstein. We know that the affidavit justifying the warrant has not been released despite significant public pressure, and that the Justice Department has petitioned the court to keep the affidavit sealed, vaguely citing “compelling reasons, including to protect the integrity of an ongoing law enforcement investigation that implicates national security.” A hearing to determine the issue will be held on Thursday.
We know that some documents were subpoenaed and not turned over, but that the government took no action to enforce the subpoena prior to the raid. We know that Trump’s lawyers were not allowed to observe any search activity, that they were ejected from inside the property during the “search,” and that the FBI demanded that Mar-a-Lago’s security cameras be switched off as the agents conducted the “search.”
We know that this serious procedural irregularity has led to claims that incriminating evidence may have been planted, that some of the seized material was protected by attorney-client privilege, and that some of the seized material may have documented further evidence of FBI complicity in the debunked Russia hoax. We know that the FBI has refused Trump’s requests to return documents he claims are protected by attorney-client privilege, and to have the remaining material examined by an independent investigator.
We know that former FBI attorney Kevin Clinesmith pleaded guilty and was convicted of making a false statement to a FISA court to extend a surveillance warrant on Trump campaign aide Carter Page. We know that former FBI Deputy Assistant Director Peter Strzok was removed from the Russia investigation and then fired after it was revealed that he texted his colleague and mistress Lisa Page suggesting measures to prevent Trump from becoming president. We know that presidential historian, legacy media commentator, and Biden adviser Michael Beschloss implied on Twitter that Trump should be executed for treason, like Cold War spies Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, and that former NSA and CIA Director Michael Hayden retweeted that this “sounds about right.”
We know that 11 sets of documents marked “top secret” or above were seized, that the current classified status of these documents is unknown, and that Trump has consistently maintained that they are not classified. We know that regardless of the documents’ markings or classified status, Trump, as president, held ultimate declassification authority for all federal documents.
We know that the “search” ostensibly was for documents that the National Archives and Records Administration believed to have been improperly removed from the White House when Trump left office, and that both the National Archives and Trump’s representatives described their discussions of said documents as cooperative and even “cordial.” We know that four days after the raid the Washington Post, and no other news outlet, cited “anonymous sources” to claim that the documents contained vital “nuclear secrets” – secrets so vital that the documents were not recovered for 19 months, and so “secret” that their alleged unsecured status was announced in a major national newspaper.
We know that prior to the raid, Biden’s approval rating had in some polls tanked to 33 percent – the lowest of any president in modern American history. We know that at the same time 81 percent of Americans rated the economy as something less than “good,” that 75 percent believe the country is on the wrong track, that 70 percent expect the next generation to live worse, and that over 40 percent identified inflation – a Biden Administration phenomenon – as by far the single most important issue facing the country. We know that 69 percent of Democrats oppose Biden running for a second term and that at least eight prominent congressional Democrats have dodged questions about whether they would support his reelection.
We know that almost all polls have rated Trump as the most popular candidate for the Republican nomination in 2024, and that Trump-endorsed primary candidates in 2022 midterm election races have a strong track record of prevailing over anti-Trump opponents. We know that today their ranks will include Wyoming contender Harriet Hageman, who defeated incumbent anti-Trump U.S. Representative Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) in a landslide. We know that most polls show Trump either defeating or tying Biden in the 2024 popular vote and almost certainly winning an electoral college vote.
We know that the only similar recent cases of federal records disputes involved Trump’s 2016 opponent Hillary Clinton, who removed more than 33,000 emails to a private home server and then destroyed them, and Clinton-era National Security Advisor Sandy Berger, who physically removed classified documents from the National Archives. We know that neither Clinton nor Berger was prosecuted and that their homes were not raided – or even “searched” – by federal law enforcement. Former FBI Director James Comey publicly upbraided Clinton for having acted illegally and took no further action against her, while Berger was issued an administrative fine.
Surely there are both known and unknown unknowns, but the known knowns point to an ugly conclusion: a failing Biden Administration, facing a rematch against Trump and a pro-Trump Republican Congress in January, has launched a politically motivated assault on the leader of the opposition without regard for due process, constitutional rights, and proper procedure. As Trump put it on Monday, “This is an assault on a political opponent at a level never seen before in our Country. Third World.”
That is as despicable as it is likely true, but there is one more known known: We know that Trump’s polling over potential rivals has skyrocketed over the past week, elevating his chances of winning the nomination in 2024 from mere likelihood to near certainty.
The most important thing we do not know is what the Regime will try to do to Trump next as it tries to keep a lid on the affidavit, retains all seized documents, and prepares to deploy 87,000 new IRS agents recruited under a job description that includes requirements to bear arms and use deadly force if necessary. Whatever the next move is, what we know so far suggests that it will be another step toward a police state.
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Paul du Quenoy is president of the Palm Beach Freedom Institute. He holds a Ph.D. in history from Georgetown University.
Photo “Mar-a-Lago” by Christine Davis. CC BY-SA 2.0.