The ridiculously blacked-out affidavit “justifying” the FBI’s Mar-a-Lago raid should make it obvious to anyone still making the “trust the process” argument (here’s looking at you, Mike Pence) that the Biden DOJ is making a mockery of the justice system.
In case it wasn’t enough of a giant middle finger to American voters to conduct a surprise raid on the private home of a former president they elected and may want to elect again, the DOJ and FBI saw no need to explain why agents descended on the home of the current president’s former opponent (or why such dramatic measures were required for potential violations of public records law, violations that have been treated with kid gloves in the past). Instead, upon order from the same magistrate judge who approved the raid, federal law enforcement smugly allowed an affidavit to be unsealed that was littered with redactions. Even the document ostensibly justifying the redactions was (surprise!) largely redacted.
A few of the lines that weren’t blacked out indicated that the raid was spurred by “a CBS News article that a truck was present at Mar-a-Lago in the final days of [Trump’s] presidency,” as my colleague Tristan Justice summarized, and that “the investigation began” because of a gripe from a National Archives bureaucrat. The affidavit boastfully claims to have “probable cause to believe that the locations to be searched at the PREMISES contain evidence, contraband, fruits of crime, or other items illegally possessed,” but the unredacted text provides no indication of criminal intent.
The “trust the process” argument for the Mar-a-Lago raid relied upon the process providing accountability, forcing the Justice Department to justify its unprecedented actions toward a political foe of the agency. To “trust the process” was to assume that unsealing the affidavit would offer some answers and would show that, yes, 30 federal agents really did need to spend nine hours looking for every document that ever crossed Trump’s desk as president.
The endless black stripes across nearly every page of the “unsealed” affidavit tell you everything you need to know about how seriously the Justice Department takes that “accountability.” These actions speak far louder than the lip service given to “transparency” here, here, here, or here.
If you thought that accountability would come from unsealing the affidavit, you now know otherwise. If you still think it’s coming in any meaningful way, I have a bridge in Brooklyn to sell you.
Top brass at the FBI and DOJ know that American faith in their agencies is dismally low, with half of voters believing the investigation into the former president is “only intended to prevent him from running for office in 2024.” This distrust is well founded, after the FBI used a debunked dossier to spy on Trump in 2016, colluded with Big Tech to stifle reporting on incriminating revelations about then-candidate Joe Biden’s son Hunter right before the 2020 election, and participated in a laundry list of other corrupt antics.
But what’s telling is that such a bad (and self-inflicted) public image isn’t making the DOJ more careful to appear less politicized. Instead, they’re showing their haughty contempt for voters even more brazenly.
Oh, you don’t like it when an attorney general personally authorizes a raid on the guy who cost him a Supreme Court nomination or when it happens under a president who ran against the target of the raid and could face him again if the White House handlers prop up his medicated body long enough? Too bad, we’re the feds.
One of the many curses of bureaucracy is that “accountability” is often mired in paperwork. It doesn’t take long for bad actors to take advantage of the obvious — that you can get away with nearly anything if your “accountability” is just a report that gets left on someone’s desk and ignored (or if you redact information that could out you as a hack). Even non-malicious people can get used to skirting the rules if they know they’re practically unfireable and that the average American will read the corporate media’s slanted PR but won’t take the time to look at a redacted affidavit.
Clearly, Merrick Garland’s DOJ and FBI know that, and they’re banking on enough Americans being ignorant of the lawless weaponization of federal law enforcement to get away with it. They’re banking on enough people uncritically assuming they can still “trust the system.” But in the sorry state when an administration targets political threats to the regime — and then pretends a blacked-out document is “accountability” — you can’t.