Monday morning, no doubt most of us were stunned, shocked or amazed when the FBI served a search warranty on the Mar-a-Lago Florida home of former President Donald Trump.
It was the first time a federal law enforcement agency had conducted a legal search of a former president’s home and office. It may not be the last.
At the end of the day Monday, we knew three things — and only three things:
A federal judge had reviewed evidence presented by the FBI and found it sufficient to issue the search warrant.
At 10 a.m. Monday, numerous agents served the warrant and spent several hours searching the private portions of Mar-a-Lago.
Those agents carted off several boxes, presumably full of papers kept by the former president.
The search left many questions, to be sure, but all we knew were these three facts.
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Yet, that didn’t stop cries of outrage from many of Trump’s millions of supporters. It was all about politics, some said. Others said it was a part of a larger conspiracy by the FBI — or perhaps President Joe Biden himself — to discredit the former president in the months before the 2024 presidential election.
There were calls for Attorney General Merrick Garland to resign and, if he didn’t, to impeach him — at least he finally would get his Senate vote.
Stoking all this outcry was the former president himself — as he has been wont to do for years. It wasn’t the FBI that announced the search — it was Donald Trump.
He said his resort was “under siege, raided, and occupied by a large group of FBI agents.
“After working and cooperating with the relevant Government agencies, this unannounced raid on my home was not necessary or appropriate.”
Was it warranted? On Friday a federal judge unsealed the warrant — but not the supporting documentation — and the FBI receipt for the materials taken during the search.
It was revealed that agents confiscated several boxes of documents, many of them classified or highly classified.
That begs the questions: Why were the documents ever taken from Washington, D.C. to Florida? And why, when the FBI was allowed to investigate the contents of a locked storage room at Mar-a-Lago this spring did they not take the documents at that time? The former president said the FBI could have had them at any time.
Instead, the FBI suggested greater security for the papers, and a padlock was added to the closet door.
Even with that extra security, how many people may have reviewed the documents, including the ones marked top secret? Were they all loyal Americans?
On Friday, the former president said he had declassified all the documents taken by the FBI, but it is unclear whether he followed the steps legally required to do so.
Midweek, Attorney General Garland, in an unusual public appearance, announced that he had approved the request for the search warrant and authorized the execution of that warrant on Monday morning.
It is clear that many Americans have only a sketchy understanding of the law and how a search warrant is requested and issued, especially at the federal level.
Federal judges are not dummies. The don’t take their duties lightly and do not issue search warrants without compelling evidence of a crime.
And the FBI is the premier law enforcement agency in the world, despite what some Americans claim. Agents take their job seriously and without favor.
Yet, from the moment Trump announced the warrant search people went crazy with accusations denouncing the issuance of the warrant and the search.
Without a whit of evidence, Trump’s supporters said he is the subject of a witch hunt, an attempt to discredit him in the eyes of his millions of supporters.
Rather than wait for more information, they denounced Garland, the FBI, the Biden administration, the Democratic Party and anyone else they could think of.
The lives of at least two FBI agents who presented the evidence to the federal judge on Aug. 5 was threatened. What is wrong with us today?
Has America always been like this, exacerbated now by the 24-hour news cycle and the ever-present and unchecked social media?
The best thing — and the only smart thing — to have done after the warrant was served was to let the events play out in their own appointed time. Both sides were eager to jump to conclusions — conclusions that, in most cases, proved inadequate or just plain wrong.
We understand the doubts many Americans have about their federal government. Many of those doubts are justified.
But at some point, we have to trust that our federal law enforcement agencies are honest, trustworthy and working hard for all of us.
There is much yet to come in the various investigation into former President Donald Trump. It would be wise if all of us let the investigations play out to their ultimate conclusion.
Remember, we are all in this together.