With the revelation that the FBI had raided his winter palace in MaraLago, Donald Trump redoubled his attacks on law enforcement and the law itself. And many in the Republican establishment support him not necessarily because they genuinely believe he is innocent, but because being pursued by federal officials has become a badge of honor in the Republican Party.
On Monday, FBI agents searched at least part of Trump’s home to determine if confidential documents were kept at the former president’s private club and residence and were not sent to the National Archives at the end of his term. If true, Trump could be violating the Presidential Records Act of 1978, enacted after the Watergate scandal to prevent presidents from destroying their documents and records or refusing to share them once they leave office.
The National Archives had already recovered the boxes Trump had stored at MaraLago and confirmed they contained confidential information that could harm national security if it got into the wrong hands. (Trump was known for being so unconcerned about protecting files that he routinely tore up documents that should have been kept and even dumped their fragments in White House bathrooms.)
Instead of voicing concerns about a potential violation of the Presidential Records Act or simply holding the process on hold until more information is available, Trump supporters have lashed out at law enforcement.
Unsurprisingly, Trump cited the complaints about law enforcement, declaring, “My beautiful home, MaraLago, in Palm Beach, Florida, is currently under siege, raid, and occupation by a large group of FBI agents.”
Of course, this particular investigation is a far cry from the scope of his legal troubles. Trump comes under scrutiny as members of the House committee investigating the January 6, 2021 riot seek to determine if he specifically encouraged the attempted coup. And the authorities of Georgia and New York continue to conduct criminal and civil investigations.
All along, Trump not only looked fearless; He considered the investigation a source of pride a sign that he and his supporters are fighting a fair fight against a corrupt and biased law enforcement regime. Mister. Trump hit it big, sent a text to his supporters and linked to his donation page: “The radical left is corrupt. Give the power back to the people! will you fight me Donate.”
That attitude doesn’t stop with Mr. Trump: In Colorado, Tina Peters, who served as county clerk and thus top local election official, has been charged with felonies and misdemeanors related to tampering with voting equipment. And officers in several other states are under investigation for possible similar crimes as law enforcement officials try to get to the roots of the action that allowed partisan GOP agents to rig electoral systems in 2020.
None of these investigations seem to stop the Republican leadership or their compromised base. On the contrary, blatant violations of the law are now a political advantage for GOP candidates and agents. Several people involved in the Jan. 6 Capitol raid are running for office and winning the GOP primary with Trump’s blessing flaunting his role in the violent coup.
Last January, at least 57 people who took part in the rally, gathered on the steps of the Capitol, or stormed that building were campaigning for office nationwide, according to the Politico website. And at least three of them have been charged with riotrelated crimes. Is it getting in the way of your campaigns? Not even a little bit. For example, Ryan Kelley, a Republican who ran unsuccessfully for Michigan governor, told Politico, “When I travel across the state, I’m an insurgent to some people. I hear from them: ‘That’s why I’m voting for you. Because you fought for us there.’”
Last week, vote deniers prevailed in several GOP primaries. In Arizona, former TV host Kari Lake, who won the Republican nomination for governor, told reporters that even in that race there was cheating and told her supporters that they “stand up and vote like their lives depend on it.”
And in Michigan, a Republican activist suspected of involvement in a plot to undermine the 2020 election results, Matthew DePerno, is on course to win the Republican nomination for attorney general. (Early in 2021, election officials distributed voting machines to him and other Republican activists trying to substantiate allegations of voter fraud.) DePerno’s candidacy, like Lake’s, was supported by Trump.
Mister. Trump could be charged with stolen documents, financial fraud, or obstruction of voting. And prosecutors must follow the evidence where it leads. But as much as we ruler of law may find this comforting in such uncertain times, we must prepare for what is to come: Trump will accept the impeachment, run for it, and win votes for it in the Republican primary.
This is the inevitable result of the Republican Party being controlled by a man who prides himself on his impunity. “I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue,” thencandidate Trump boasted in 2016, long before he won the Republican nomination for president, “and shoot someone and I wouldn’t lose voters.” Unfortunately, that may now be the truth.
Caroline Fredrickson is Senior Fellow at the Brennan Center for Justice and Visiting Professor of Law at Georgetown University. Article transcribed from The New York Times