About That FBI “Raid”

The “usual suspects” are pontificating and Democrats are engaging in what appears to be enjoyable speculation. (Trump has been selling state secrets to the Saudis/Russians/Extra-terrestrials…)

We don’t know.

In fact, we wouldn’t know that the FBI had executed a search warrant at Mar-a-Lago had his Orangeness not begun fundraising off his own announcement of the search. What we do know is that this wouldn’t have occurred absent a really well-documented belief that serious lawbreaking had occurred.

As Josh Marshall recently put it at Talking Points Memo: 

The best assumption is the obvious and initial one: we’re dealing with three key players (Garland, Wray and a federal judge) each of whom would bring a distinct and deep-seated resistance to taking such a step absent evidence of serious criminal conduct and specific circumstances which made the need for a surprise search compelling and necessary. That strongly suggests that there is more afoot here than we yet know.

I will note again what I referenced last night. If you read the reports from the biggest national news organizations what is most striking is how little they seem to know. They believe it’s tied to the 15 box document retention investigation which goes back like a year. But even that seems vague and they don’t seem to know much more. As I said above, this isn’t our first rodeo. Usually after an event like this the most sourced reporters are able to put together a pretty full picture pretty quickly. But that doesn’t seem to be happening. At least not based on the stories I’ve read. That speaks to an extreme secrecy uncommon even in the most delicate and politically-charged investigations.

The Wall Street Journal  notes that authorization for the raid required approval of the “highest echolons” of the Justice Department. 

Before the FBI search, a federal magistrate would have approved a warrant for FBI agents to search the property, indicating investigators may have believed there was additional classified information at the location.

The search also would likely have required signoff from the highest echelons of the Justice Department, including Attorney General Merrick Garland, who was appointed by President Biden, and Christopher Wray, the FBI director appointed by Mr. Trump in 2017, current and former department officials said. A Justice Department spokeswoman declined to comment Tuesday. Mr. Garland has said little publicly about any of the Justice Department’s Trump-related investigations other than noting to reporters that no one is above the law.

One of the most pointed descriptions of the FBI’s execution of its search warrant came from Wired, which reported:

Monday’s search of the former president’s Mar-a-Lago property in Florida was surely one of the most significant, sensitive, and politically explosive actions the US Justice Department and FBI have ever taken. It’s one of a tiny handful of times the DOJ has ever investigated a president. And it’s an action that likely indicates the FBI and prosecutors had specific knowledge of both a definable crime and the evidence to back it up.

 The actual search warrant, which would list specific crimes being investigated, has not been released yet. According to Monday night news reports, however, the search focused on questions about a number of boxes of classified documents that Trump took from the White House to his Florida mansion after leaving the presidency.

While it may take months to learn more about the underlying investigation, the fact that the FBI launched such a high-profile search already tells us a great deal about the state of the Justice Department’s case.

 Federal search warrants aren’t fishing expeditions. The FBI’s warrant had to be approved  at the highest level of both the FBI and the Justice Department, and approval would have required substantial evidence of probable cause. The Journal acknowledged that previous FBI scandals have made the bar for probable cause and sign-off by the department’s upper levels even higher.

The Justice Department’s 2016 decision not to prosecute Hillary Clinton for her sloppy handling of classified materials as secretary of state raises the bar for any prosecution stemming from Trump’s handling of classified documents….which means that in order to pursue this Trump investigation, there would have to be more serious (and criminal) concerns than there were in the investigation of Clinton.

 Thus, we’re left with the big question the FBI is ultimately trying to investigate right now: Who would have benefited from Trump taking home these particular documents—and why?

As the Wired article concludes :

Wray, Garland, and Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco have made it clear throughout their careers and public statement that they are institutionalists. Far from being aggressive, partisan investigators, all three have shown themselves over the past 18 months to be reserved, careful, and legally and evidentiarily conservative.

The bottom line of Monday’s search is that the FBI and the Justice Department must have been inordinately clear that they had the goods—and someone’s legal trouble is just beginning.

Stay tuned…


  1. More distraction to paint Trump as the victim. Republicans are already investigating the federal judge in Florida who signed the warrant.

    The immediate cries from DeSantis were calling the USA a banana republic (pretty close to the truth) and Defunding the FBI.

    I would look at those reactions first on this case versus the media.

    According to several conspiracies already circulating, there was evidence that Trump was trying to share the information with others to use it for geo-global or political purposes. Remember, everything is being watched by Five Eyes in the Western world.

    I believe it’s just political fodder for Trump cooked up by the oligarchy just like 1/6. No significant arrests will follow, just like 1/6. Just something to attract people’s eyeballs to their TVs.

    The two political factions will do intense fundraising to separate dollars from the fools.

  2. The one hint I heard was that the material in question is SO sensitive, it can not even be described in the listing. Just describing it could be dangerous to national security. And the orange menace is doing WHAT with this material? I think the Republicans rushing to his defense will be burned by that decision. Are you SURE you want to go down with this guy? Better be careful..

  3. As AG Merrick Garland FINALLY reported, the Department of Justice does not investigate in public. This is policy in any qualified criminal investigation, high crimes or misdemeanors, those who are investigating do not need public attention or approval, they need to seek out the facts without the public or the media impeding their way. An example of why qualified investigations are not done in public; Mayor Diane Feinstein just HAD to let San Francisco and the world know she had insider information on The Night Stalker, whose victims numbered in double digits, she announced police had identified the gun and the shoe brand of footprints pointed to the same killer of all. So Richard Ramerez, who watched her news report, got rid of that gun and those shoes and left the country. When police at last identified his fingerprint, they reported his identity and asked for the public’s help. AG Garland, the FBI and the courts will let us know what led them to Trump and Mar-A-Lago to confiscate those boxes IF or when we need to know. There is so much more about the entire Trump era, which continues without end, we can only hope investigations are ongoing and have been for longer than we know…like possibly 2015 and what led to his ride down that escalator.

    patmcc; let’s hope Republicans rushing to his defense will be burned by that decision and “Liar, liar, pants on fire!” will become the reality in this political nightmare.

    Todd, as usual, has no idea what “this case” is that he offered his suggestion where to look. I look at him as being a part of the problem which is keeping Trump at the forefront in his big fish in a little puddle position as the “Voice of Muncie”; a nowhere, problematic little town in the back county known as Indiana. He helps keep Indiana in its behind-the-times place on all major issues facing us today…such as being first in the nation to issue a stringent anti-abortion bill after the SCOTUS loss of Roe.

    “The Wall Street Journal notes that authorization for the raid required approval of the “highest echolons” of the Justice Department.” You won’t find Smeckens or DeSantis listed among them.

  4. Can you say “Projection”?
    Of course, the GOP, who would love to use the Justice Department to prosecute enemies (a la Nixon only worse), assume that everyone else would be like them.

    Besides, one never criticizes Imperious Leader. Any attempt to hold him to the standards of mere mortals is obviously persecution and an attempt to smear him, which will fail – we all know that.

    So the documents – easy guess – (1) incriminating evidence of his wrong doing, (2) secrets for his buddy Putin (and perhaps others), or (3) both.

    I hate to say it, but I agree with James – Trump should be the first former President to be locked up. Ask Illinois – they have a record of locking up their former chief executives.

    I actually got a call from my friendly pro-Trump co-worker when the news broke – I hadn’t actually heard what happened but they were mentioning Nixon and Watergate on TV in the background. His reaction?
    “Nixon? Watergate? They must be trying to go after Trump again, but they will fail.”

  5. I don’t know what you all did yesterday but I welcomed the news by opening a bottle of rose Prosecco. It was saved for a special occasion and that “raid” and subsequent freak out was delicious. Cheers, hiccup.

  6. Document handling is one obvious crime. But IMHO, the degree of secrecy – and the fact that they can keep it so secret – also indicates Trump’s dealings with undisclosed others was likely illegal, and the “others” were likely unsavory characters themselves.

    And this one kinda stuck in my craw: “one of the most significant, sensitive, politically explosive actions the US Justice Department and FBI have ever taken.” … Right up there with Comey’s letter to Congressional Republicans just before the election, throwing the election to Trump.

  7. You know trump has a copy of the search warrant. He can make it public any time he wants. But as the master of fraud and deception, there must be some reality in that document that does not fit with the narrative he is providing.

    I caught a few minutes of MSNBC at lunch yesterday, and even this more main stream news channel is still stuck in the grove that got Trump elected in the first place. They are paying attention to the big orange hairball, with “breaking news” over his outrageous statements.

    If they would just report; Trump’s Mar A Largo was the subject of an FBI search warrant. We don’t know why. Trump has not revealed the details of the search warrant he has a copy of, and as per customary procedure, the warrant was approved by a judge, who happened to be appointed by Trump, but nobody in the Justice department or the FBI is revealing the details of an ongoing investigation.

    Unfortunately, other than the fact this was an action against an ex-president, that story is pretty boring. Unless you happen to be listening to Trump himself, and I am now sure for him, he is making windfall profits off all of the small donor idiots that are still sucked into the right wing media machine.

  8. I hate to rain on the parade, but I sincerely doubt that the Teflon Don is going to have anything negative happen to him. This is a man who only falls up for some reason. He’ll make tens of millions in donations off of this and the case will fall apart on a technicality. I think drinking to his fall is more than a tad premature.

  9. Everyone should please note: This was NOT a raid. If you’re going to “raid” a place you don’t call ahead and arrange for them to meet you, have their lawyer present, and let you in. You just show up and break down the door.

  10. Even when Trump was President, one of the things he enjoyed most was bragging to people about all the super secret information he knew. That Trump would take classified documents with him to bolster his bragging is consistent with his previous behavior.

    It is important to note that removal of any documents by Trump is illegal. The docs don’t have to be classified. But if they are classified, it’s a more serious offense.

    So disappointed with Andrew Yang statements against the search. Apparently the Forward Party doesn’t believe in the whole “rule of law” and “no man is above the law.” Yang didn’t even bother to wait until the details of the search came out before siding with Trump.

  11. Yang knows how corrupt the DOJ is ( and those pulling the strings behind the scenes). He knows they are obsessed with trying to stop Trump no matter the means. They operated under false pretenses for 4 years…. Jan 6 committee is a joke (majority of Americans think it’s a witch hunt) so they had to come up with something “new” to try and keep it alive -BUT,
    Prepare for the backlash – 2022 midterms will be a bigger blowout than ever for the dems – the Trump base ( anti Biden ) is not only energized but PISSED off even more thanks to the “raid”.
    Trump endorsed candidates keep winning their primaries. The train has not only left the station, it’s almost to the finish line!

  12. Trump is a career and serial grifter, liar, cheat and a host of other things. You people who think he is made of teflon are mistaken. Merrick Garland is NOT Jim Comey or AG Barr. His secrecy is indicative of his process which avoids publicity to the max. Those who think Trump will skate have been conditioned, over the years, by bad, powerful guys skating. Nixon was going to jail. Ford did the nation a total disservice by not allowing that precedent-setting prosecution go forth. Garland is gonna nail his orange ass to the Leavenworth wall.

  13. I am with James — especially the perp walk! LOL!!

    Todd — as usual you are full of it. “According to several conspiracies already circulating . . .” why in the world do any of us need more info on that? We already have Marjorie Taylor Greene.

    Aging Girl — you and I must be sisters who were separated at birth! Here’s to you . . .

    Peggy — so agree — the word “raid” is being used way too much. A raid is what they do to drug dealers — and this may be the only crime His Orangeness hasn’t committed.

    And of course the POT (Party of Trump) heads are already crying foul! What else would they do?? Because it reaps so much $$$$$$ from the other POT heads.

  14. Gail,

    Without dreams, there is no reality. So when the orange hairball starts his last perp walk, what will you say then? I expect that silence will be your response, because you have nothing else to offer.

  15. Why didn’t the FBI just use a subpoena? The fact that the FBI sought a search warrant rather than a subpoena implies it did not trust Trump to hand over or preserve official documents in his possession.

    Plausible? In Palinese – “You Betcha!”

  16. Good work. They have made him a martyr. The FBI has been corrupted and weaponized for decades. If John Lennon were alive today, he would agree of the aforementioned assessment of the organization.

    This will backfire.

  17. Kathy M,
    Just you wait and see…I will be loudly celebrating when I see that perp walk, hopefully in handcuffs. We can toast together! 😁

  18. https://twitter.com/RVAwonk/status/1556827038178328578

    Per the Washington Post:

    An immediate concern is the safety of the federal judge in Florida who approved the search warrant. Once his name made its way to right-wing forums, threats and conspiracy theories soon followed. Online pro-Trump groups spread his contact information and, as of Tuesday afternoon, the judge’s official page was no longer accessible on the court’s website.

  19. Gail — how much of your hard earned cash have you sent the POT heads?
    And those of us in the majority are also really PISSED off by the ongoing destruction of our democracy.
    Ever read the story of Mussolini? I don’t think the dems will ever hang Trump’s body up by his ankles, but a perp walk would be a good substitution.
    We all have dreams. Yours are that a dictator rises again and takes over the country; mine is that he is brought to harsh justice.

  20. We have a DOJ that works as intended. That’s good news. We don’t know what’s going on here, so there’s that. We have no reason to except as news cycle fodder. More work coming up for the DOJ, the House Select Committee, and the courts. Lawyers are going to make themselves famous on both sides of the issue. That’s Teflon Don’s secret ingredient. Lawyers flock around him like flies but in search of fame, not fortune because he often stiffs them for their bills. Maybe usually.

    Good criminals are much harder to prosecute than amateurs. We have our best people doing what’s best for the country and that’s never not good.

  21. The documents the FBI seized from Mar Lago have been there since DJT left office, seems to be the case. So why now? DOJ is running investigation (grand Jury) which is secretly run and time sensitive. Could it be that it was discovered that crucial incriminating evidence for DOJ’s case was in those boxes? So will Grand Jury indict DJT? Problem is where will they find a jury of his peers?

  22. Well, Everyone, it ain’t over until it’s over. I’m making no predictions. I only have hopes.
    A couple of notes:
    1. Trump has a Teflon reputation because he gets all of his lackeys to do his dirty work while he drags a sweep behind him and clogs up the toilets.
    2. The so-called “raid” blow-back will only last until Trump sends his flying monkeys off to do another job. The “blow-back” is over blown. In the meantime, law enforcement needs to crack down on “doxing” and the resulting threats and harassment. Just throw the book at a few of them to make them examples.
    3. Engaging is magical thinking is entertaining, but the results can be dire. We need to keep our feet on the ground.

  23. Kathy, ALG, Lester: Good! Anyone who crosses the Orange Hairball or has any dealings with him in any way has good reason to seek additional protection. Fifth Amendment indeed! The only thing first class about this phony is cowardice.

Comments are closed.