American Stasi?

Eric Trump, in an interview with the Daily Mail, revealed astounding details regarding the FBI raid conducted at President Trump's Mar-a-Lago home on Monday.

The raid was conducted by more than 30 plainclothes agents from the Southern District of Florida and by the FBI's Washington Field Office.  The agents accessed the Trump family's entire 3,000-square-foot private quarters and offices, ransacking their contents.

The raid lasted for the equivalent of a working day, beginning at 9:00 A.M. and ending at around 6:30 P.M.

The most startling revelation was that FBI agents initially refused to hand over the search warrant for their raid on Mar-a-Lago to Donald Trump's lawyer, Christina Bobb.  They only showed it to her from about ten feet away.

Bobb was left in perplexity as to why a lawyer for the person's home being raided by the FBI was not able to see or obtain a copy of the search warrant and thoroughly read it.  Bobb also said the supporting documentation for the warrant describing the probable cause was sealed.

The low-level federal magistrate judge, Bruce Reinhart, who signed off on the warrant, was in the news for switching from federal prosecutor to defense attorney for individuals connected to convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.  Reinhart also donated $1,000 to Obama's presidential campaign and $1,000 to Obama's Victory Fund.

Bobb also said she was ordered to stand on the outskirts of the Mar-a-Lago property — i.e., in the driveway — throughout the raid while the temperature was a sweltering 91 degrees with high humidity.  It was an unprecedented refusal to permit a client's attorney to be present as they conducted their search.

The demeanor of the three DOJ lawyers who accompanied the FBI was described as "arrogant," and they repeatedly told Trump representatives, "We have full access to everything.  We can go everywhere."

Eric said the 30 agents who arrived at the property asked staff to turn security cameras off, but the request was wisely refused.  If they were operating per procedure, there was no reason for secrecy.  The footage from security cameras enabled officials at Mar-a-Lago to learn the extent of the FBI's raid.

Both President Trump and his lawyer have rightly expressed concern that the FBI may have planted evidence. 

The New York Post also revealed that the FBI spent several hours scouring Donald Trump's private office, even breaking open his safe and rifling through drawers.  They also looked through a locked basement storage room in which 15 cardboard boxes of material from the White House were stored.

They searched the master bedroom, known as the Versailles Room, which Melania Trump renovated two years ago, and rummaged through the former first lady's wardrobe and searched through her clothing.

Trump's attorneys, led by Evan Corcoran, told the New York Post they were "cooperating fully" with federal authorities to arrange the return of the documents, with the process beginning in May 2021, when it was noticed that some records were missing.

In January 2022, some of the documents were returned, and in February this year, the news became public.

In early June, four top DOJ officials traveled to Mar-a-Lago to speak with the former president's attorneys about the documents.

The Justice Department has been investigating the "mishandling of classified information" since the National Archives and Records Administration said it had received from Mar-a-Lago 15 boxes of White House records, including documents containing classified information, earlier this year.

Trump's team showed the government officials where Trump was storing documents — in a basement room.  Investigators reportedly observed that some of the files there were marked as classified.  At one point, Donald Trump himself reportedly stopped by to "make small talk."

By law, all presidential correspondence and documentation have to be handed over to the National Archives.

Former top Trump administration official Kash Patel told Breitbart that a report claiming that classified materials were found at Mar-a-Lago was misleading.  The documents were actually already declassified by President Trump, but the classification markings had not been updated.  As president, Trump had the authority to declassify any classified material in the government's possession.

There are multiple federal laws governing the handling of classified records and sensitive government documents, including statutes that make it a crime to remove such material and retain it at an unauthorized location.

The raid, however, doesn't mean that prosecutors have determined Trump committed a crime.

Now for a bit of history.

Back in 2014, the House Select Committee on Benghazi asked the State Department for all of Hillary Clinton's emails.  The department didn't have them all because, instead of using only the State Department email system (with an email address ending in, Clinton used a personal email address ( housed on private servers located in the basement of her home in Chappaqua, New York.

How did the FBI react?

Were there raids on Clinton's Chappaqua home or rummaging through Hillary's wardrobe?  No!

The FBI issued its findings in July 2016 and conceded that classified information had been improperly transmitted.  However, they attributed it to carelessness, not an intent to skirt the law, hence she was let go.

Bill Clinton's national security adviser, Sandy Berger, was prosecuted in 2004 for stealing and even destroying classified documents on the Clinton administration's mishandling of terrorism prior to his testimony before the 9/11 Commission.

Gen. David Petraeus was similarly charged for sharing classified documents with his mistress.

Neither Berger's nor Petraeus's home was ever raided.  They merely pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges and were let go.

What happened at Mar-a-Lago on Monday seems like the actions of the Stasi.

The Stasi were the secret police of East Germany, established with Soviet help in 1950 by German communists after World War II.  They were responsible for the relentless persecution of dissidents or anyone who wasn't a complete conformist.  The Stasi conducted surveillance without warrants, espionage, and unannounced raids.  The accused weren't given access to lawyers, and they were subject to prolonged detention without a warrant. 

All the East German government agencies and even the courts were forcibly drafted and co-opted.  If they needed a warrant, the judges became stenographers and gave the Stasi what they wanted.  The Stasi enforced the law selectively.  While dissidents were punished for small infractions, loyalists to the state could get away with serious crimes.  The celebrated film The Lives of Others (2006) depicts the horrors of living in East Germany.

The huge difference, of course, is that East Germany was a totalitarian dictatorship, while the U.S. is a representative democracy.

In a functioning democracy, every citizen, irrespective of his wealth, power, or connections, must be equal before the law.  These blatant dual standards only cause trust in government agencies that should be apolitical to erode.

The citizen, particularly the conservative citizen, will be thinking that if this could happen to a former president, what chance do citizens have at receiving fair treatment?  When there is no trust left in law enforcement agencies, anarchy begins. 

The Democrats are viciously gnawing at the roots upon which the nation stands.  The questions remains: will winning elections be enough to stop them?

Image: Anagoria via Wikimedia CommonsCC BY-SA 3.0.

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