Update, 4:44 PM: no sooner do I post this than learn that the search warrant will be unsealed. We may know more soon.
Listen, nobody could have been more gleefully joyful than me to learn that the Feds had stormed into Trump’s absurd Florida pleasure dome at Mar-a-Lago, and proceeded to spend the better part of ten hours rummaging around for documentary contraband. They even broke into my safe! whined Donald, overwrought, which was just such a delightful thing to see. The G-Men left later in the day with something like 20 big boxes full of apparently sketchy material, and that was delightful too. Oh boy, oh boy! one reflexively thinks, The Traitorous Tangerine is in for it now! Finally! The great millstone of justice, having ground ever so slowly, is at last starting to grind fine, and no two ways about it, right? The much-maligned Merrick Garland is finally getting the lead out and doing something constructive to save the Republic – maybe we’d been wrong about him all along? Is this really it, at long last? Maybe!!
It got even better when news broke of Trump being deposed in the NY State civil suit aimed at his shady business practices, a case that had receded from the headlines many months ago, and it came out that Donald had taken the 5th something like 400+ times. Hey, I thought only mobsters and guilty little rats took the 5th, isn’t that what you always used to say, Donald? Hyuk! Add that to the ongoing investigation into Donald’s attempt to mess around with Georgia’s vote tally – though we dimwits out here amid the unwashed laity can be forgiven for wondering what’s taking so frigging long to investigate, what with Trump being caught on tape, expressly trying to persuade the Georgia Secretary of State to find him 11,780 votes, you know, down some seat cushions or somewhere, so he could flip the state – and things are starting to look highly promising indeed! Which reminds me – it’s never a bad time to re-listen to this:
So I awoke today to headlines like this, copied from the Salon website:
…and that’s when it hit me like a bucket of ice water. Hold your horses, there, sport. We’ve been down this road before, yes? We’ve allowed false hope to crush us more than once, haven’t we? Haven’t we thus absorbed a bitter lesson? Why, I myself once likened The Donald to an immortal cockroach, laughing off the latest chemical assault from the Orkin Man, indestructible, invincible, always emerging unscathed from the toxic clouds of scandal and illegality that should have done him in. So what have we learned, people? What’s the motto we forget at our peril, the one that saves our sanity?
It’s the hope that kills you.
We must never lose sight of this unpalatable truth. It’s when things look the most promising that we’re in the greatest psychological danger. The only prudent thing is to tamp down our excitement, and assume that this is all just the latest tempest in a teapot.
Sure, it looks bad, with everybody noting, rightly, that there was no way they could’ve obtained high level DOJ sign-off on this utterly unprecedented search and seizure, much less the approval of a no doubt very cautious federal judge, unless they had His Trumpness dead to rights on something, with rock-solid sworn testimony (provided, so we’re hearing today, by inside informers) that there would be evidence of some sort of crime to be found at Donald’s vulgar seaside palace, while detailing just exactly what that evidence would be. You don’t get a search warrant on the dwelling of an ex-President unless all your ducks are in a very long, very tidy row. That’s a fact.
Moreover, they seem to have found what they were looking for – but what? Oh, it’s delicious to speculate! Maybe Donald had a cache of state secrets he was flogging to the highest foreign bidder on some dark web information exchange! Or maybe he’d stolen a bunch of evidence of his own wrongdoing, perhaps involving his extortion of Ukraine, or his corrupt side-dealings with the Saudis, or something even worse – maybe it’s transcripts of a call in which he and Mohammed bin Salmon yukked it up in advance of the pending murder of poor Jamal Khashoggi! Why, it could easily be something more vile and damning than anything we might conjure in our most fevered imaginings, couldn’t it? Absolutely incriminating stuff surrounding the January 6 coup attempt, say, or other deeply criminal plots about which we’ve thus far had not even an inkling!
Yeah. Well. The problem I have is in coming up with plausible ideas about what Trump could have been hanging on to, and why. I’m flummoxed. It doesn’t even make sense that he took a bunch of printed material with him when he left, I mean, the dummy doesn’t read, and isn’t at all interested in things like intelligence briefings or detailed operational plans. If you handed him the schematics for the latest stealth bomber, he probably wouldn’t give them more than a glance. He wouldn’t care. He also wouldn’t say to himself gee, I wonder if the People’s Liberation Army Air Force would pay to get a crack at these, maybe I should give Uncle Xi a call when I’m back in Florida – he’s just not that big of a moron, not quite, not when it comes to criming, the one field in which he always displays a surprisingly feral cunning. Moreover, he’s always been allergic to paper records, like the mob boss he is, and doesn’t seem apt to have permitted any of his dirty little schemes, whatever they were, to have been well documented. Trump was all about destroying records, not keeping them. He shredded notes from meetings, if they were kept at all, sometimes flushing them down the crapper, and sometimes, so we’re hearing, even eating them (which I guess also gets them to the crapper, eventually, if coaxed along with enough Metamucil). Given everything we know about how he conducts his invariably shady business, the notion that this guy carried off a trove of bound volumes detailing his undoubtedly myriad deadly sins seems vanishingly small.
Yet he certainly did take stuff with him, a lot of stuff, and clearly it was stuff he wasn’t supposed to have, so what could it have been? I’m not particularly impressed by the news that a lot of it was marked “top secret”, since the American intelligence bureaucracy is legendary for applying such stamps to everything within its considerable grasp (it’s been quipped that they’d label the New York Times as Top Secret/Sensitive Compartmented Information if it landed on one of their desks). Yet the apparent urgency of the retrieval effort speaks to the sensitivity of whatever it is Donald was hoarding. Was there really material which, in his possession, represented a genuine national security risk? Could he actually have felt compelled to preserve records of his shady dealings, because there’s a ton of money involved, and he needs the details? Is there material he can use for blackmail and extortion? Or what?
I don’t know, but I must warn you all not to get your hopes up. Remember: he always skates. We have to steel ourselves for the possibility that this is the last we hear about it, until we learn, maybe months or even years down the road, that the material wasn’t particularly sensitive or probative of anything, but was still stuff Donald didn’t have a right to keep, and the National Archives were determined to get it all back, and that’s the extent of it. Yes, even that, while not especially satisfying, would involve breaches of the law, even felonies, but one wonders if they’d pursue what could be spun as mere technical violations involving nothing much of import. They’re not going to ask a jury to lock him up if all he kept was Kim Jong Un’s love letters and birthday greetings from Putin, are they?
Hey, if I’m just being a Gloomy Gus, and Trump burns for this, then hooray. I admit, it’s hard to quell the giddy anticipation. Trump had boxes and boxes of paper (and even thumb drives, maybe?) that he wasn’t permitted to have, and the FBI, having jumped through God knows how many hoops of fire to obtain the required approvals, just went in and got it. It might be something lethal! This could be a Big Fucking Deal, it really could.
It’s just that one mustn’t hope.
Meanwhile, the fallout from the FBI’s execution of the search warrant has been really quite terrifying, demonstrating the extent to which the American polity seems close to the point of shattering. MAGA types were all over social media calling for civil war, of course, but it wasn’t just the usual denizens of the fever swamps, and it wasn’t just the morons on Fox News, either, though of course they chimed in too. Prominent politicians, the ones who know better, have likewise lent their increasingly shrill voices to the nonsense about Deep State witch hunts, and attacked the FBI as being the tool of the hated Liberals, and a threat to civil society. (Pause on that for a second – the FBI as a hive of radical left Liberals!) The usual suspects were there of course, Marjorie Taylor Greene, Paul Gosar, and that crew, shouting Defund the FBI, as if they hadn’t all spent the last two years trying to hang the anarchist label around the necks of Democratic politicians for wanting to defund the police, a slogan adopted in some factions of the left that almost nobody in elected office ever actually endorsed. Get a load of this:
This is from some member of the Florida State legislature:
Not sure what he means by “outside the purview of our State”, but he seems to envision the arrest of FBI agents at gunpoint by Florida State Troopers, which I guess would be one way to get the civil war ball rolling.
Sadly, though, it goes beyond the hard core of the GOP Clown Brigade (unless, as it might now be fair to reckon, they’re all actually members of the hard core Clown Brigade). House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy pitched in, decrying the FBI’s intolerable state of weaponized politicization, and vowing, essentially, to persecute Merrick Garland with an interminable series of Benghazi-like bullshit investigations, once the Republicans take back the House. Preserve your documents and clear your calendar, he barked over Twitter, overtly threatening the Attorney General of the United States. Elise Stefanik, the consummate opportunist who supplanted Liz Cheney as the #3 House Republican, offered that “Joe Biden’s FBI and Department of Justice have been fully weaponized against their political opponents”. Joe Biden’s FBI. Spineless Florida panderer Mark Rubio, perhaps sensing an opportunity to stir up the Cuban ex-pats who still form a large part of his base, stated that the search of Mar-a-Lago was a Communist plot. I shit you not. He claimed the FBI was rife with Commies, adding:
This is what happens in places like Nicaragua, where last year every single person that ran against Daniel Ortega for president, every single person that put their name on the ballot, was arrested and is still in jail. That’s what you see in places like Nicaragua. We’ve never seen that before in America.
Florida governor Ron DeSantis trotted out the Banana Republic talk too, decrying the “weaponization of federal agencies against the Regime’s political opponents” (note the upper case “Regime”). Steve Bannon, who, yes, is still out there (talk about immortal cockroaches), mused that the Deep State was probably planning to assassinate Donald, and all of them, Seb Gorka, Dinesh D’Souza, Stephen Miller, Charlie Kirk, the whole fetid crew, are running around, whipping the base into a lather over what they’re characterizing as the Deep State’s “declaration of war” on America’s righteous conservatives. Some are literally issuing calls to arms.
And, of course, everybody is jumping on the bandwagon, which Donald himself got rolling with one of his typically eloquent missives over on Truth Social, his ersatz Twitter alternative, that the dastardly FBI agents had planted whatever evidence they purported to have found. Pure Donald. I was framed! The fix was in! Now, making this sort of claim is a dead giveaway that the perp knows damned well that the cops have the goods, and is now rushing into the proverbial last refuge of the scoundrel. It’s the sort of weak-assed protest that everybody, however dimwitted, ought to see right through; “they planted evidence” is on a par with “the dog ate my homework”, farcically tansparent baloney. Not to the MAGA crowd, though. Nope. They believe it, egged on by the jackals on Fox, like the execrable Jesse Watters, and luminaries like Newt Gingrich, who obviously isn’t going to crawl back under a rock and die of abject self-loathing, as so many of us have wished so fervently for so long.
Now, I’d like to come on all sage and sanguine at this point and assert that these guys are all full of old rope, and nothing like the sort of armed uprising they’re calling for is even remotely possible at this point. Pundit Brian Karem, writing for Salon, was taking that view this morning:
Like a toddler in a high chair spilling his food while soiling his diaper, Trump has perfected the art of the whine. The far right is screaming “Civil war,” and Trump eats it up.
Let them whine. They’re as full of shit as he is. After five years of threats from Donald Trump, I can tell you one thing — the stray mentally challenged Trumper may be dangerous, but with so many of them facing prison time because of the insurrection, those who are still vaguely aware of reality are no longer so interested in taking up arms for a president who once wished his army generals were more like Hitler’s.
I’d like to think that. After January 6, though, I can’t. Before then, I was apt to adopt the same sort of tone when heaping abuse on all those witless MAGA slobs in their cosplay army gear, riding around in their giant pickups, flying Trump banners, waving guns, and promising blood and fire if Donald wasn’t re-installed in the White House. They seemed so risible, then. Now, I just don’t know. Sufficiently incited, the mob will act – we’ve seen it – and oh boy, are they being incited. What the GOP is doing, from the top on down, with everybody endorsing the idea that Trump is being victimized by an insidious cabal of Deep State operatives who’ve taken over all of America’s institutions at the behest of the Dems (and, we’ll likely hear soon enough, George Soros and the Jews), is insanely dangerous. They’re undermining the foundations of the very system they hope one day to control. It’s utterly unhinged, deeply nihilistic, and almost unbelievably short-sighted, and to get where they seem hell-bent on going they’ve actually got the Base convinced that this is all so unfair, so very oppressive, to poor, innocent, beleaguered Donald. To hear them tell it, a duly authorized search warrant is a vile thing that threatens all of them, all the law-abiding citizens everywhere who don’t toe the radical left’s anti-American line. “If it could happen to him it could happen to anyone” has become the rallying cry.
Why, yes. Yes it could. Because that’s just another way of saying “nobody is above the law”, an idea that used to be as American as baseball, apple pie, and fireworks on the 4th of July. I’ll let the wags over at The Shovel have the last word on that: