The FBI executed a surprise search warrant on August 8th at former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home in Palm Beach, Florida. Mr. Trump was not at Mar-a-Lago when more than thirty FBI agents, some armed, descended on the home of the former president and potential presidential candidate in 2024. The raid was an unprecedented display of abuse of power in the United States, which is supposed to be a constitutional republic, not a third world autocracy. The dubious pretext for the day-long search, which included breaking into Mr. Trump’s safe and searching Melania Trump’s closet, was to look for classified documents that Mr. Trump allegedly had taken with him after leaving office. More likely, as former federal prosecutor Andrew McCarthy wrote, the search was all about gathering evidence to build a criminal case against Mr. Trump in connection with the January 6th Capitol riot.
The Biden administration and their friends on the January 6th inquisition committee are doing everything in their power, including weaponizing federal law enforcement institutions, to take down Mr. Trump and prevent him from running for president again. They are following the playbook of Joseph Stalin’s head of the Soviet Union’s secret police, who said, “Show me the man, and I’ll show you the crime.”
The American people deserve nothing less than complete transparency regarding all the circumstances leading up to and surrounding the issuance and execution of the search warrant. There must be immediate public disclosure of the application for the warrant, including any affidavits and supporting materials, together with the warrant itself.
Attorney General Merrick Garland and FBI Director Christopher Wray bear full responsibility for this travesty of justice. They should be required to explain under oath why a subpoena, accompanied by a judicial order directing Mr. Trump, his family, and aides to preserve all government materials still in their possession, would not have sufficed to begin with. What was the sudden urgency for conducting a raid of the former president’s private residence now, considering that Mr. Trump has already demonstrated his cooperation by voluntarily returning fifteen boxes of materials to the National Archives earlier this year? And why didn’t the FBI agents and Justice Department lawyers conducting the intrusive search allow Mr. Trump’s lawyers to be present during the search to observe? Finally, what materials did the FBI agents seize and why?
The FBI was anything but aggressive when it went through the motions of investigating former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s storage of classified documents on the private server she used while she was a senior member of former President Barack Obama’s cabinet. There was no FBI raid on Hillary Clinton’s Chappaqua home.
FBI’s then-Director James Comey recommended against prosecuting Hillary Clinton for the storage of classified materials on her private server and subsequent deletion of thousands of e-mails, many of which turned out to be work-related.
As Alan Dershowitz wrote in an opinion piece appearing in The Hill, “It is true that a president or former president is not above the law — but neither should he or she be below the law. Precedents established in relation to Democrats must be equally applied to Republicans. On the face of it, this standard has not been met here.”
Many Americans have the right to be skeptical that the FBI was truthful in its submissions to the judge who approved the warrant authorizing the search of Mr. Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence, considering the FBI’s partisan track record. Both before and after the 2016 presidential election, for example, the FBI submitted false information to the FISA Court in order to obtain a warrant allowing electronic surveillance of former Trump aide Carter Page’s communications.
Adding to cause for skepticism is the federal magistrate judge who approved the warrant unleashing FBI agents on Mar-a-Lago, Judge Bruce Reinhart. Judge Reinhart had donated to Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign and represented employees of Jeffrey Epstein while in private practice.
Just days before the FBI raid on Mar-a-Lago, Director Wray testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee. He sidestepped critical questions, including as related to possible investigations of Mr. Trump. Director Wray declined the opportunity to explicitly disavow FBI agents’ initial assessment debunking the e-mails found on Hunter Biden’s laptop concerning his foreign business dealings as Russian disinformation. Wray excused the FBI’s failure to enforce the law against pro-abortion activists who were engaging in prohibited demonstrations outside the homes of conservative Supreme Court justices. Then Wray cut his testimony short, saying that there was an FBI Gulfstream jet waiting to take him to the Adirondacks for a vacation.
FBI Director Wray should be called back from his vacation immediately. He and his boss Attorney General Garland need to do some explaining under oath as to what they knew about the search warrant and when they knew it. They should testify as to what role, if any, they played in the internal warrant application approval process, and any communications they or their staffs had with the White House regarding the warrant and search. Then Wray, along with Attorney General Garland, should do the right thing for once and resign for the actions under their purview that have precipitated a constitutional crisis and further polarized the nation.