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The Mar-a-Lago Raid

Garland and patron

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) raid on Mar-a-Lago, the private residence of former President Donald Trump, was considerably more organized than the much investigated riot at the U.S. Capitol on January 8, 2021.

Hours after the Mar-a-Lago raid, Attorney General Merritt Garland, nominated by former President Barack Obama to fill a vacancy on the U.S. Supreme Court, seemed to disclaim knowledge of the raid. Following splashy news reports, Garland thought better of his denial and on August 11, according to the New York Post, acknowledged “that he ‘personally approved‘ the search warrant request for documents that triggered Monday’s unprecedented FBI raid on the Florida home of former President Donald Trump.”

It is generally acknowledged that the historic and unorthodox police raid, the first-of-a-kind raid of a president’s home in U.S. history, had been carefully preplanned. 

Garland said, before he quickly scooted out of range of the media, “The Department does not take such a decision lightly. Where possible, it is standard practice to seek less intrusive means as an alternative to a search, and to narrowly scope any search that is undertaken.”

The Attorney General added, “Faithful adherence to the rule of law is the bedrock principle of the Justice Department and of our democracy, upholding the rule of law means applying the law evenly without fear or favor. Under my watch, that is precisely what the Justice Department is doing.”

Although it may take months for data necessary for a just assessment of the appropriateness of the raid to tumble from the lips of the principals involved, including Garland, some people – not enough – are now asking proper questions.

If it is standard practice within the FBI “to seek less intrusive means as an alternative to a search, and to narrowly scope any search that is undertaken,” what was it that triggered the abandonment of standard practice? And why is Garland equating a standard practice rule with “the rule of law”?

Under considerable pressure, Garland has now supplied the warrant used to authorize the raid but not, some commentators have noted, the much more detailed affidavit supporting the warrant.

The motion to unseal the warrant, we are told, “would not impair court functions moving forward,” and because “representatives of the 45th president have already provided ‘public characterizations [emphasis mine] of the materials sought,’ therefore the occurrence of the search and indications of the subject matter involved are already public.”

If representatives of the past president were to “publically characterize” matter included in the affidavit, would Garland agree to release a properly redacted affidavit supporting the warrant?

To ask the question is to answer it. The answer would be -- sorry, no, go away.

If the affidavit itself were a political devise to secure an overly broad warrant that would allow the Justice Department to gather any and all evidence in support of outstanding criminal investigations -- not to mention the continuing partisan Congressional hearing on the Capitol building riot -- a close examination of the affidavit might prematurely disclose such hidden political purposes.

In connection with Trump, prior questionable affidavits submitted to a closed FICA Court and a subsequent close examination of unfolding data have pointed to a two year long crippling investigation that some – not only the inflammable Trump – have characterized as a hoax, the origins of which were early on buried alive in a previous attempt to deny a campaigning Trump honest access to the presidency.

Are the warrants, affidavits and the authorized raid itself an instance of a partly successful effort to subvert a presidency? Have we entered an arena of “deja-vue-all-over-again” dirty tricks?

In a recent column printed in a Hartford paper, “Garland has a political duty to explain the circus perpetrated as Mar-a-Lago,” George Will, no Trump acolyte, notes that the bandied about expression “‘No person is above the law’ is a thought that makes further thinking unnecessary. However, the punctilious enforcement of every law, no mater how complex the social context, is zombie governance by people spouting bromides to avoid making complex judgments.”

Just as the meaning of a word may be determined by its use in a sentence, so the meaning of a political action should be determined by its complex social context.

Political zombies take note.

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