Third world groupthink and Mar-a-Lago
Is this a genuine national security emergency, or our descent into the banana republic of America?
In America, former presidents have a great deal of discretion dealing with their own documents and materials. Typically, an ex-president keeps some kind of security clearance, and many continue to receive security briefings as a courtesy. After all, the club of living ex-presidents is always very small. Donald Trump was never a member of the club, even when he was the sitting president.
Remember George W. Bush said “that was some weird s**t” at Trump’s inauguration—he was speaking, in general, to his own successor and Trump’s predecessor, Barack Obama, along with whoever else was on the platform. Whenever the ex-presidents would get together for some event (like George H.W. Bush’s funeral ), Trump remained aloof. He wasn’t even invited to John McCain’s funeral, the loathing had erupted as if from a volcano of revulsion.
It’s not hard to think that in this environment, where Trump remains the enemy of the State, quite literally in many senses, that the State would take extraordinary measures to deny him any courtesy, as he has denied them the least bit of normal cooperation. Trump had boxes containing classified material at Mar-a-Lago, and he knew he had it there, and he refused to return the material to the National Archives, as the law demands.
Now, I wouldn’t put it past Trump to have said, done, and leaked enough stuff of what’s in those boxes (and it’s likely the DOJ has a very specific list) to worry and spook people in the Biden administration. It’s a powerful message when an ex-president’s palace gets raided. Trump was all over it, and you wouldn’t be off base to assume he knew it was coming and had prepared his response. Ironically, his main statement was that the raid was “unannounced.”
There’s no greater way to stir the pot here, at least not without Trump being led away in handcuffs, like AOC tried to fake, for the cameras. Even the greatest groupthink in history, between the Biden White House and the Garland DOJ, isn’t capable of that level of stupid, but they are capable of making a spectacle of document retrieval.
My concern here isn’t for the spectacle, or for the political weaponizing of it we’re going to see by both sides. “The beginning of the end” is so worn out by now that if it was a baby blanket, the baby in question would be graduating college, with mom arranging the tattered cloth on junior’s bed. And of course, Trump himself will leverage this into his 2024 kickoff, because the Deep State is coming for you next (if you have classified documents in your home that have been formally requested for months while you dilly-dally on returning them, yes the Deep State is coming for you).
My concern here is that we’re seeing both sides assume the actions of a third world kleptocracy, and nobody in either camp has the wits or the cojones to yell “stop!” Groupthink on both sides indicates that the public would respond strongly—the public that supports one side or the other—to Biden finally doing something about the menace to democracy that is Donald Trump. While the Trump side calculates that the Deep State is the menace.
Whatever was in those classified documents at Mar-a-Lago may well be worth the FBI going to get them. And whatever was in them, if they are really that important, cannot be disclosed to the public, because, duh, they’re classified. So the government’s hands are pretty well tied. But the Biden administration owes the public some kind of explanation. Otherwise, the narrative that this was third-world kleptocracy level scorched earth tactics is a natural question to ask.
Oh, and also, if Trump’s access to these documents is such a national security crisis, what is Hunter Biden’s deals with Chinese and eastern European billionaires supposed to be? What’s the Clintons’ dealings with Rusatom supposed to be? If this is really such a national security emergency that Trump has classified documents at Mar-a-Lago, then everything that everyone in the ex-president club, and their families, could be a national security emergency.
Or is this just a failure of courtesy taken to the last level of insult? If Trump deserves jail, put him there, through the legal system. If you think Trump is above the law because of his political power, then it’s time for a revolution. If you think Trump is above the law and he deserves to be, then you might be a crypto-monarchist. But one place we all need to stay out of is making Trump the former El Presidente of the banana republic of America.
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"He wasn’t even invited to John McCain’s funeral, the loathing had erupted as if from a volcano of revulsion."
I doubt that this was because the "Ex-Presidents Club" was shunning him, and more related to the mutual animosity between Trump and McCain that went back as far as 1999 and McCain's widow not wanting him there.
(Figured that I'd toss this into the discussion as well.) One of the more interesting questions now is whether Trump will run in 2024 or not. While this raid puts pressure on him to enter the race officially (investigating the actual political opponent of the sitting president gives the FBI heartburn), another signal worth considering is that Truth Social will not turn into a cash cow for Trump any time soon, as the SPAC that raised funds for the merger (and would flow to Trump and other owners) is now asking for a one-year extension on their deadline to close the deal:
"Digital World Acquisition Corp., a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC), disclosed late Friday it is seeking shareholder approval to delay the September 8 deadline by a year to allow time to consummate its planned acquisition of Truth Social owner Trump Media & Technology Group.
Shares of the blank-check company fell 3% Monday morning. Truth Social, which had a messy launch earlier this year, aims to be an alternative to traditional social media and has promised to 'stand up to the tyranny of Big Tech.'"
"The efforts to buy time come as the deal faces a flurry of legal issues and regulatory scrutiny amid what experts have warned are red flags about the transaction."
How wealthy Trump actually is has been an open question for decades, but with the DWAC SPAC cash locked up for another year, it cuts out another revenue stream to Trump. I can see this adding pressure to run again, but I can also see it as pressure to keep him out of the race, as he currently has pretty free hands to spend his PAC money as he sees fit:
"Timing of an official announcement may not matter for the electorate, but for the de facto frontrunner, it is a matter of serious financial significance. As a candidate in fact, but not in filing, Trump can do pretty much whatever he wants with probably more than $100 million of the quarter of a billion dollars he raised in the wake of the 2020 election when he was begging money for a non-existent Election Defense Fund to help him overturn the result. The money instead was directed to his leadership PAC, which has few restrictions on how or how much money Trump wants to spend. He can pay himself and his family members for services, cover travel costs, stage campaign rallies (as long as he doesn’t say the magic words), and even spend $60,000 on a fashion designer. Very much in the way the Clintons used their family foundation as a slush fund in the years between campaigns, Trump is exploiting the loopholes and lack of enforcement in the system to subsidize his lifestyle and keep himself politically relevant."
"Since then, he has kept up a steady barrage of fundraising appeals to his army of small-dollar donors with scammy, spammy messages and even a plea to replace his broken down “Trump Force One.” A Democratic group alleging that Trump is running a shadow campaign through the PAC said in a complaint to the Federal Election Commission that the former president’s group is spending $100,000 a week on Facebook ads and 'has consistently raised more than $1 million per week.' But that grift ends—or at least shifts—as soon as Trump files his candidacy papers with the Federal Election Commission. Trump’s PAC can give $5,000 to his own campaign once it begins, just like any other candidate, but no more."
Anyhoo - more grist for the mill.