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Opinion | Maybe the FBI raided Trump’s house because he broke the law

The former president had a history of mishandling official records and misusing classified information.

Former President Donald Trump speaking at a rally in Cullman.
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Donald Trump illegally took classified documents from the White House and stored them at his residence in Florida. 

This is a fact. It is not disputed. 

We know it to be a fact because the National Archives and Records Administration announced publicly last February that it had received numerous boxes of improperly stored records, recovered by officials from Trump’s residence. Among those boxes, the Archives said, were numerous classified documents. Some of those documents, officials said, were so sensitive to national security that they could not be discussed. 

These are not opinions. 

It is also not an opinion that Trump routinely broke protocol when handling presidential records and was extremely loose in his handling of sensitive documents. To the point of flushing documents down the toilet, according to an upcoming book. 

Following last February’s discovery at Mar-a-Lago, it was also widely reported that the FBI and other federal agencies could open investigations into Trump’s handling of the documents, and that the search for additional – which authorities clearly knew existed – would continue. In the months since, federal investigators have met with Trump and his attorneys in an effort to track down the documents and materials. 

None of that is in dispute. 

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Federal agents serving the search warrant on Monday didn’t exactly kick down the door and toss in flash-bang grenades. According to numerous reports citing sources present for the search, the federal agents conducted a “low-key search” while Trump wasn’t at the residence and his club was closed. They didn’t even wear their “FBI” windbreakers, according to the New York Times. 

So, um, what’s with the freakout from the rightwing? 

If you’ve scrolled through your favorite social media app or sat for five minutes in front of Fox News or happened upon a rightwing radio show over the past day, you would think the FBI just announced a criminal investigation two weeks before a presidential election. (But those only happen when emails are involved.)

The “banana republic” rhetoric from a bunch of dudes wearing Banana Republic has been off the charts. And that includes our local and state politicians – from congressmen to legislators to statewide officeholders. According to them, this whole thing is one big politically motivated scheme to … well, it’s not really clear what the “political” motivation might be in the DOJ serving a search warrant on the one politician with lower approval ratings than Joe Biden. 

After the last couple of weeks, though, this was a situation Biden certainly didn’t want. He was on an upswing, picking up big wins and watching his approval ratings start to rebound. A Mar-a-Lago raid – particularly one in which the result of the raid won’t be known for weeks or possibly ever – is not a development that helps Biden or Democrats in the immediate future.

But hell, who needs reality when you have the top law enforcement agent in the state proclaiming that the raid was merely an “effort to flaunt the strength of law enforcement for political ends,” as Alabama AG Steve Marshall did? He also said the action “destroyed the credibility” of the FBI, which I’m certain the many agents who assist Alabama’s law enforcement agency will be pleased to hear, and said that the American people won’t tolerate much more.

Um, pardon me, but what? 

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They executed a search warrant on a guy who has been caught breaking the law, and who was caught doing the very thing at the center of the search warrant. 

And, oh, by the way, that guy hasn’t exactly been known for his record-keeping or his protection of American secrets. 

Maybe you’ll recall that U.S. intelligence officials were forced to remove a top-secret source – an American spy in Russia – after Trump decided to disclose classified information to two Russian officials during a closed-door meeting at the White House. The disclosure upended years of work and put key allies in jeopardy. It also potentially exposed one of our own assets and effectively provided Russia with more up-to-date info than we had shared with even our closest allies. 

And that’s not all. 

Trump also shared on Twitter – on Twitter! – a classified photo of a Iranian launchpad. The photo was of such high quality that it could not have come from a commercial satellite and specific markers indicated it was from one of America’s most secretive spy satellites. And after going to an intelligence briefing, Trump just plopped it out there on Twitter, as if it were Dark Brandon meme. 

So, to sum things up, Republicans want you to believe that the FBI, at the direction of President Biden apparently, conducted a raid at Trump’s home for purely political reasons. 

But the reality is this: The FBI served a search warrant and collected numerous documents from the home of a man who has been known to violate the laws related to the collection of official documents, and who has been caught previously storing top-secret documents at that exact location, and who has been known to toss around sensitive information in the past. 

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Yeah, I think someone is trying to turn this into a political raid. And it’s pretty obvious who that is.

Josh Moon is an investigative reporter and featured columnist at the Alabama Political Reporter with years of political reporting experience in Alabama. You can email him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter.

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