News

The search for Trump’s Mar-a-Lago opens a new round of “political revenge”?

  It’s been a week since the FBI raided former President Trump’s mansion, Mar-a-Lago. With the exception of a Trump supporter who was shot dead for attempting to break into the FBI’s regional office at gunpoint, social unrest from the incident has been limited so far. However, the long political upheaval from the search is just beginning.
  The federal government and Trump disagreed about the raid. According to Trump, Mar-a-Lago was “raided” by a large number of agents at around 6:30 a.m. on August 8 without any warning. The FBI revealed that although Trump claimed to have returned all sensitive documents early, agents found at least 11 suspected confidential documents at Mar-a-Lago. That means two of the three counts involved in the search warrant against Mar-a-Lago could be convicted: concealing and stealing official documents and collecting and transmitting national defense secrets, commonly known as “espionage.” If convicted, Trump faces up to 10 years in prison.
  Trump, on the other hand, accused the FBI of taking “boxes and boxes of lawyer litigation material and executive privilege material that they knew they should not have taken.” That raises doubts about the ultimate purpose of the operation: Unlike the FBI, the Justice Department can use anything it finds under a search warrant to prove “other possible crimes.” The Department of Justice’s demands are far more than “espionage crimes”. They are more looking forward to linking Trump with the “Capitol Hill riots” in January 2021 and punishing felony crimes of fraud and rebellion. Even just confirming that the material prepared by Trump and his lawyers contained forged federal documents could raise the maximum sentence Trump faces to 20 years.
  Some American media pointed out that Trump is “incompetent and furious”, essentially worrying that he will be prosecuted. No matter how he argues, the outgoing president does not enjoy judicial immunity, and the federal government is acting in accordance with the law. However, given that this is the first time in U.S. history that a former president’s residence has been searched in a criminal investigation, potential future actions by the FBI and the Justice Department against Trump will also be “unprecedented” and what implications this will have outside the law, more attention.
  The operation of American politics not only depends on the law, but also on a series of unwritten “norm” or “political rules”. When Trump was president, one of the damages to the American political ecology was the breaking of many conventions. For example, he refused a congressional subpoena as president, which, although legal, violated the practice of previous presidents to respect the authority of Congress.
  The FBI raids disrupted at least two political conventions. One is to respect the former president and uphold his basic dignity. The second is the “90-day rule”, whereby the federal government keeps the civil service neutral by refraining from major actions that could affect the outcome of a national election three months before the election. The FBI broke into Mar-a-Lago, just three months before the November 8 midterm elections. FBI officials said this was to comply with the “90-day rule.” However, the follow-up effects of the action must last for “90 days”.
  The Biden administration can certainly defend itself with “this is the established investigative process.” The investigation into the existence of classified documents at Mar-a-Lago began in January 2022. Justice Department and FBI officials also “ran into” Trump and said hello when they entered the manor for inspection in June. But the search operation did little to benefit Biden and the Democratic Party’s elections, apart from making Trump’s “witch hunt” rhetoric more supportive of conservative voters. This to some extent ruled out the possibility that the search was motivated by “partisan interests”.
  A poll by the US “Politico” magazine on August 10 showed that after the raid, Trump’s approval rate among Republican voters rose to 58%, reaching the peak since he lost the election in 2020. Of course, it may be beneficial for Democrats if the documents obtained through the search can prove Trump’s insurgency, or put him in jail; but based on the “90-day rule,” these judicial actions will not be launched before the midterm elections. Therefore, unless Biden and the Democrats have given up on the midterm elections and are only strictly preventing Trump from “re-fighting” in the 2024 presidential election, this raid is more of a “short-term bad” than a “positive” for the Democratic Party.
  However, regardless of whether there is direct instigation from the Biden administration behind this “raid”, it is an established fact that political conventions have been broken. At the beginning of Biden’s victory, many political scientists and constitutional scientists from different political spectrums said that if Biden really wanted to lead the United States out of the “shadow of Trump”, there should be no rush to let the Department of Justice sue Trump. . On the one hand, it will enhance the unity of the left and right, and on the other hand, it can maintain the practice of “respecting the former president” and avoid the formation of a new “political revenge” culture.
  Today, this “political revenge” culture has begun to emerge. Trump’s lawyer and veteran Republican politician Giuliani said that if Trump were to become president again, “the first thing he would do would be to search every Biden home.”