Politics Foreign Affairs Culture Fellows Program

Tired Of The Trump Drama

Even if there's a reasonable explanation for the Mar-A-Lago document stash, why would the ex-president do this?
Screen Shot 2022-08-28 at 2.25.40 AM

As outrageous as the FBI raid on Mar-A-Lago was at first, it was always smart to wait until we knew what the FBI was after, and why, before drawing firm conclusions. Now that we have a better idea, it's clear that the situation was, and is, serious. The former president was believed to have in his possession highly classified documents, some of which disclosed top national security information, that he was not entitled to have. It appears that the government tried repeatedly to get those documents back from him, with no luck.

It seems clear to me, based on what we now know from the redacted affidavit released on Friday, that there were serious and substantive reasons for the raid. From the NYT story:


The 38-page affidavit, released on Friday, asserted that there was “probable cause to believe that evidence of obstruction will be found at” Mr. Trump’s Mar-a-Lago compound, indicating that prosecutors had evidence suggesting efforts to impede the recovery of government documents.

Since the release of the search warrant, which listed three criminal laws as the foundation of the investigation, one — the Espionage Act — has received the most attention. Discussion has largely focused on the spectacle of the F.B.I. finding documents marked as highly classified and Mr. Trump’s questionable claims that he had declassified everything held at his residence.

But by some measures, the crime of obstruction is as, or even more, serious a threat to Mr. Trump or his close associates. The version investigators are using, known as Section 1519, is part of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, a broad set of reforms enacted in 2002 after financial scandals at companies like Enron, Arthur Andersen and WorldCom.

The heavily redacted affidavit provides new details of the government’s efforts to retrieve and secure the material in Mr. Trump’s possession, highlighting how prosecutors may be pursuing a theory that the former president, his aides or both might have illegally obstructed an effort of well over a year to recover sensitive documents that do not belong to him.

There might be a reasonable defense for Trump. Maybe. I suppose we will see. But at this point, even if Trump is able to avoid legal consequences for this behavior, what I can't figure out is why he got himself into this mess. It sounds like he really did have in his possession highly sensitive documents that did not belong to him, and that he resisted for a year good-faith efforts by the government to recover them. If that's true, then why would he have held on to them? Why the drama? Was there a principled reason, or is this just Trump being Trump: sloppy and reckless and egocentric?

We have ten weeks to go until the fall election. Given the economic situation, and given how far to the Left the Biden Democrats have governed on social issues, Republicans ought to retake the house in a landslide, and ought to have a decent shot at winning the Senate. They're now talking about how the Senate looks increasingly out of reach for the GOP, and that the Democrats may not lose nearly as big in the House as they have feared -- and might even hold on to it.

If conservatives want to stop the Democrats from wrecking the country, and -- stay with me here -- actually do things to turn around America in decline, it is clear that they have to get Trump out of the way. Can conservatives really afford this kind of pointless, destructive drama any longer? I'll say it again: in Ron DeSantis, the party has an accomplished governor who has many of Trump's good qualities, without the moronic self-sabotage.