We now have the warrant the Department of Justice used to conduct a raid on former President Donald Trump’s Mar-A-Lago residence. Between the warrant, leaks from the DOJ, and Attorney General Merrick Garland’s refusal to answer a single question regarding this unprecedented action, we’ve entered a new era in American politics. Democrats have unleashed a modern use of the DOJ in national politics, and there’s no going back.
Breaking judicial norms
In a way, the DOJ raid on Trump is similar to the escalation we witnessed for decades over judicial nominations. Democrats like Joe Biden led the charge on smearing people like Robert Bork. Biden and others led the charge on filibustering all Republican judicial nominations. And then, when Democrats wanted to get their nominees through, they changed the rules.
That rules change, which Democrats cheered, led to Donald Trump’s Presidency and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell pushing through a generation-changing number of judicial appointees. In 2013, McConnell warned Democrats when they started changing the rules saying, “If you want to play games and set yet another precedent that you’ll no doubt come to regret, I say to my friends on the other side of the aisle: You’ll regret this, and you may regret it sooner than you might think.”
McConnell was right. Republicans won the Senate in the 2014 midterm elections. That election dramatically altered power in Washington D.C., giving McConnell the majority to block an Obama nomination for the Supreme Court. After Trump’s election in 2016, Republicans used that majority to push through even more judicial nominees. That nuclear option in 2013 continues to reverberate almost a decade later.
Trump warrant is over-broad
The DOJ will have a similar impact. And like McConnell said in 2013, the decision of Democrats to raid Trump could come back to bite them much sooner than they think.
The Devil is in the details of the warrant on how this can and likely will come back. Former Prosecutor Andrew McCarthy lays out the generalized portion of the warrant:
Where things get really, shall we say, elastic is subsection (c). It permits the seizure of “any government and/or Presidential Records created” throughout the four years of Trump’s presidency.
Plainly, this has nothing to do with classified information. It is mainly designed to use the criminal law — the search warrant, an intrusive tactic for retrieving evidence of crimes — to enforce the Presidential Records Act, which is not a criminal statute.
What makes this important? There are no restrictions on the FBI conducting the warrant. The FBI allowed themselves to go on a fishing expedition by including that reference in the warrant.
McCarthy notes, “subsection (c) authorized the FBI agents to seize every scrap of paper from the Trump administration. There is no limitation to classified information. There is no limitation to the Presidential Records Act. There is no limitation to the unmentioned Capitol riot. Indeed, there is no requirement that any scrap of paper be connected in any way to any crime whatsoever. No restriction at all. If it was arguably a government record of any kind generated during the Trump presidency, the judge said the bureau could take it.”
Democrats set new precedent
In short, the FBI and the DOJ use a pretext to search for anything to incriminate Trump. Democrats and their supporters enjoy saying, “No one is above the law!” That’s true; no one is above the law.
But saying someone isn’t above the law is dramatically different than a sitting President sending the FBI on a fishing expedition to his predecessor and political rival’s house, searching for any wrongdoing, and taking no questions. We know from news reporting from the D.C. media that Biden wants Trump prosecuted.
Executing a warrant just months before the midterm elections is a dramatic, weighty use of prosecutorial power at the highest levels that cannot be ignored.
Let’s set up the following hypothetical. Say Donald Trump runs for the Presidency again and defeats Joe Biden in 2024. Suppose Republicans hold all three branches like Democrats do now. Why wouldn’t Trump and Republicans execute a similar warrant against Biden? We already have pre-textual legal issues for Biden, including his son Hunter Biden and the accusation of bribery. On top of that, there’s Biden’s politicization of the DOJ, his disastrous withdrawal and abandonment of Americans in Afghanistan, and more.
Investigations from the House and Senate into Joe Biden and his affairs are coming. What’s to stop a Republican DOJ from executing a similar warrant against Biden? Everyone with a brain knows that the press would cover that situation differently than they are now.
Republicans will use the same power
I’m calling this hypothetical, but given Biden’s unpopularity, it’s not out of the question for this exact scenario to play out. And if it isn’t Trump in the White House, another Republican would have expectations of investigating the Democratic politicization of the DOJ.
Pandora’s box is open. Executing that warrant and raiding Trump’s house sets a new precedent. There will be political ramifications for years to come.
When presented with similar circumstances, President Gerald Ford wisely pardoned Richard Nixon and ended the Watergate affair. In a speech, Ford observed, “After years of bitter controversy and divisive national debate, I have been advised, and I am compelled to conclude that many months and perhaps more years will have to pass before Richard Nixon could obtain a fair trial by jury in any jurisdiction of the United States…”
Ford concluded, “My conscience tells me clearly and certainly that I cannot prolong the bad dreams that continue to reopen a chapter that is closed. My conscience tells me that only I, as President, have the constitutional power to firmly shut and seal this book. My conscience tells me it is my duty, not merely to proclaim domestic tranquillity but to use every means that I have to insure it.”
It was a brave act, and Ford accomplished what he set out to do. Our leaders exacerbate it and open Pandora’s box.