The Trump affidavit shows the Mar-a-Lago search was hardly capricious

Via:  Nerm_L  •  3 months ago  •  2 comments

By:   Editorial Board (Washington Post)

The Trump affidavit shows the Mar-a-Lago search was hardly capricious
There’s much we still don’t know now.

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Capricious?  The editorial board of a major newspaper addresses an issue that ain't.  And we're supposed to believe that this newspaper is not attempting to misdirect public attention and misinform the public?

No one has claimed that Merrick Garland, the DOJ, or the FBI raided Mar-a-Lago on a wild hair.  A capricious DOJ and FBI is not the issue.  The real issues are a DOJ and FBI that has become too independent and believe they have the authority to act unilaterally without oversight by the President, Congress, or the courts.  The mere fact that the affidavit must be redacted serves to protect the sanctity of independent technocratic authority.  No one in representative government or the courts had any say over what was to be redacted; that was in the sole purview of independent technocrats.

The fact that Trump possessed documents and the content of those documents are not the important issues.  That fact was known when Trump left the White House.  The National Archives has been engaged in a bureaucratic squabble with Trump since he left office.  Trump was defying the bureaucracy.  

The real issue is that Merrick Garland unilaterally determined that the full force of the government would be employed to retrieve documents in Trump's possession without informing anyone.  The FBI was prepared to use deadly force; they weren't asking nicely.  The FBI raid on Mar-a-Lago was little different than a special forces operation against foreign targets.  Garland deploying the FBI to raid Mar-a-Lago isn't any different than Mark Milley unilaterally determining that directly reassuring the Chinese government was necessary.  How far does independent technocratic authority extend?  Who really has authority to create policy at the Federal level?  Who's in charge of the Federal government?

S E E D E D   C O N T E N T

The heavily redacted affidavit in which the FBI requested court permission to search Donald Trump’s home, released Friday, is more tantalizing than it is revealing. But what is visible, despite pages of blacked-out text, makes the Justice Department appear thoughtful and deliberate — and the former president quite the opposite.

On the orders of a federal magistrate judge, the DOJ unsealed the document claiming to establish probable cause for entering Mr. Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate to seize suspected sensitive materials improperly transported from the White House. The most important information — the specific pieces of evidence that persuaded the court to permit the FBI search — were obscured to protect the probe and the witnesses who have assisted it. But the text that remained visible still contained some useful information. This includes a closer look at the Trump camp’s back and forth with the National Archives and Records Administration and the FBI before the search, a granular list of the classification markings on the materials in question, and a mention of the possibility that “evidence of obstruction will be found.”

The National Archives initially asked for the documents allegedly in Mr. Trump’s possession, which needed to be archived per the Presidential Records Act, in May of last year — and continued asking for more than seven months, at which point the Trump team provided 15 boxes. Next, when the archives discovered classified markings on some documents, Mr. Trump resisted the FBI’s efforts to review the material, The Post has reported, and refused to hand over any additional classified information despite a grand jury subpoena.

Trump defenders have slammed the FBI’s search as aggressive and unwarranted. What has come out since, including on Friday, suggests the search was hardly capricious. Instead, all available evidence suggests it was a thoughtful choice made after other options had been exhausted. Along the way, the affidavit showed that the Justice Department considered the dubious defense from Mr. Trump’s allies that all the documents were declassified and that keeping them at Mar-a-Lago was therefore legal.

The catalogue of markings on the 184 classified documents agents reviewed before asking to search Mar-a-Lago also explains the DOJ’s determination to learn more. Acronyms such as SI, HCS, FISA and NOFORN might seem like collections of random letters to the layman, but they signify extraordinarily sensitive information: intelligence derived from clandestine human sources, for example, or from surveillance of foreign spies. That material in these categories was allegedly mixed in with other random papers as well as a mishmash of items reportedly including golf balls, a raincoat and a razor, is alarming — even absent intent to use them maliciously.

Read together, these facts should help assuage concerns that Attorney General Merrick Garland embarked on an ill-considered prosecutorial frolic when he sought to search Mar-a-Lago — though this reality is unlikely to stop the flow of reckless rhetoric from Trump acolytes. Meanwhile, those taking a more levelheaded approach should continue to do what they’ve done so far: wait. There was much we didn’t know before this affidavit was unsealed. There’s much we still don’t know now.


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Professor Principal
1  seeder  Nerm_L    3 months ago

Editorial boards trying to misdirect public attention from the real issues only results in misinforming the public.  The editorial board hasn't moved the goalposts, they've changed the playing field.

Garland's unilateral decision to deploy the FBI on a raid of Mar-a-Lago really has created a Constitutional crisis, albeit a minor crisis involving oversight of technocratic authority.   Who's in charge of the Federal government?  Who's accountable for deploying the full force of the Federal government against people in the United States?  

Sparty On
Professor Principal
1.1  Sparty On  replied to  Nerm_L @1    3 months ago

A to think that guy was a hairs breath away from sitting on the SCOTUS.

Disturbing to say the least.


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