No ‘Banana Republic’: The FBI was right to search Mar-A-Lago
The imperial presidency did not begin with the Donald Trump era, nor did the CEOs who have attempted to leverage the flow of constitutionally vested powers from Congress to the president from the turn of the 20th century to the present day. . However, Trump has taken claims of “executive privilege” and his alleged right to declassify government national security documents to the point of absurdity, as evidenced by his response to the FBI’s search of his home and compound in Mar -a-Lago. Yet the reaction of politicians, the media, and the public to the research has highlighted the excessive respect for the presidency that has accumulated in recent American history.
Much of the American right, which is supposed to defend the original meaning of the Constitution, now reflexively supports the former president – a populist whose views before becoming president were reminiscent of those of a Labor Democrat, who greatly expanded the federal government, and which had a remarkably cavalier attitude towards upholding the constitutional norms and precepts revered by conservatives, simply because it has an (R) behind its name. If it’s true that the FBI has committed abuses in the past, that the justice system presumes everyone is innocent until proven guilty, and that the Constitution’s Fourth Amendment gives people the right to a search and reasonable seizures by government, the rule of law is the foundation of the American Republic. The rule of law simply means that everyone is supposed to be treated the same legally, that is, to have the same rights and responsibilities under the law.
On the contrary, law enforcement has given Trump preferential treatment over any other government employee who blatantly ignored long-standing laws and executive orders on highly classified material, stole it from unknown purposes and stored it in a vulnerable location. The National Archives requested the documents and received some of them. Then the Justice Department subpoenaed the rest and removed others, with Trump’s lawyer guaranteeing in writing that there were no more detentions at the president’s resort. It was only after an apparent tip from an insider who said there were even more left that the FBI searched the mansion. And they did it quietly without even their usual FBI jackets! Any other government employee holding such a treasure trove of secrets would likely have been arrested on the spot for at least obstruction of justice.
Instead, Trump was able to use his vast megaphone to expand his martyrdom by announcing the secret search and then bashing the FBI. Right-wing politicians reflexively attacked the FBI – some savagely saying they acted tyrannically or like the Nazi Gestapo – for executing a legally obtained search warrant. They tempered their criticism somewhat after reports emerged that the FBI had, in fact, gone the extra mile to retrieve the documents before resorting to the rather delicate search of the Mar-a-Lago premises. However, they are still appalled that a former president – apparently regardless of his alleged offenses – is treated so badly.
Yet even more unbiased analysts are hesitant to advocate prosecuting a former president, fearing the United States will look like a banana republic for holding a corrupt and authoritarian chief executive to account. They also fear that Trump is trying to incite his thugs to violence, which he is already trying. However, if the United States appears as a banana republic, it is because Trump, clown, corrupt, incompetent, megalomaniac and against the law and the constitution was elected in the first place, and not because he is held responsible. Of all of Trump’s potentially illegal transgressions, this one comes closest to an open and closed case. Instead of chomping at the bit to defend the indefensible, right-wingers should quietly let the Justice Department do them the favor of getting rid of the eternal loser, which they’re afraid to do because it would shake their base. Politics. The department needs to indict the former president for at least obstruction of justice, which would show that no one is above the law, that in America the real bad guys are punished no matter how exalted they are, and that constitutional structures still limit even an imperial presidency.
Ivan Eland is a senior fellow at the Independent Institute and author of War and the Rogue Presidency.