August 23, 2022

The Raid on Trump’s Home ‘Had No Legal Basis’

Rule of Law doesn’t seem to apply when it comes to the Democrats’ obsession with Donald Trump.

Setting aside the banana-republicanism of the Biden administration’s raid on Donald Trump’s home, setting aside the totalitarian nature of using the power of the state to investigate one’s political enemies, it appears that Joe Biden and Attorney General Merrick Garland didn’t even have a legal justification for their raid.

That’s the considered legal opinion of David Rivkin and Lee Casey, two constitutional law experts who served at the Justice Department and the White House Counsel’s Office in the Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush administrations. As they wrote in the Wall Street Journal:

Was the Federal Bureau of Investigation justified in searching Donald Trump’s residence at Mar-a-Lago? The judge who issued the warrant for Mar-a-Lago has signaled that he is likely to release a redacted version of the affidavit supporting it. But the warrant itself suggests the answer is likely no — the FBI had no legally valid cause for the raid. …

Mr. Trump’s documents are covered by a specific statute, the Presidential Records Act of 1978. It has long been the Supreme Court position, as stated in Morton v. Mancari (1974), that “where there is no clear intention otherwise, a specific statute will not be controlled or nullified by a general one, regardless of the priority of enactment.” The former president’s rights under the PRA trump any application of the laws the FBI warrant cites.

Rivkin and Casey stress the broad, sweeping nature of the state’s warrant, which targets “any government and/or Presidential Records created between January 20, 2017, and January 20, 2021,” which encompasses Trump’s entire term in office. A warrant can hardly be any more general than that. Indeed, one wonders why their fishing expedition didn’t include Trump’s high school transcripts.

The authors also detail the provisions of the Presidential Records Act, which altered the way our nation’s chief executives had historically treated their White House papers. Until the PRA became effective in 1981, presidents from George Washington through Jimmy Carter had treated their White House papers as their personal property. “The PRA explicitly guarantees a former president continuing access to his papers,” they write. “Nothing in the PRA suggests that the former president’s physical custody of his records can be considered unlawful under the statutes on which the Mar-a-Lago warrant is based.”

So much for our Constitution’s Fourth Amendment guarantee against “unreasonable searches and seizures.”

And, by the way, so much for the Biden administration’s denials that it had nothing to do with the investigation or the raid on Mar-a-Lago. “We do not interfere. We do not get briefed. We do not get involved,” said White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre shortly afterward. As veteran journalist John Solomon reports, “Long before it professed no prior knowledge of the raid on Donald Trump’s estate, the Biden White House worked directly with the Justice Department and National Archives to instigate the criminal probe into alleged mishandling of documents.”

Perhaps unimpressed by the Fourth Amendment’s clear-cut proscription, or perhaps believing that the Founders would never have wanted the Bill of Rights to protect such a Trump-like character, the Biden Justice Department went forward with its search of Mar-a-Lago and the seizure of its documents. Never let a constitution get in the way of a good raid, we suppose.

“It’s never happened, and it never would happen if it weren’t Trump,” said Harvard Constitutional Law Professor Emeritus Alan Dershowitz, a Democrat, who likened the Biden administration’s tactics to those of Joseph Stalin’s notorious KGB head. “This is a Lavrentiy Beria prosecution. Beria said to Stalin, ‘Show me the man, and I’ll find you the crime.’ They’re looking too hard for crimes with which to charge Trump. Their goal is to get him.”

Rivkin and Casey conclude by acknowledging the government’s vital interest in how classified materials are kept regardless of whether they’re presidential records. “In this case,” they write, “it appears that the FBI was initially satisfied with the installation of an additional lock on the relevant Mar-a-Lago storage room. If that was insufficient, and Mr. Trump refused to cooperate, the bureau could and should have sought a less intrusive judicial remedy than a search warrant. … Surely that’s what the government would have done if any other former president were involved.”

No, it’s never happened. Even though it certainly should have.

The Biden administration and its fellow Democrats often sanctimoniously say that no one is above the law. Clearly, though, they believe one particular person is beneath it.

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