August 29, 2022

Unsealing Nothing

The affidavit that supposedly justified the raid on Donald Trump’s home was so thoroughly redacted that it told us next to nothing.

On Monday morning, August 8, Joe Biden’s FBI raided former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home, and the American people have been waiting for a decent explanation ever since. Then, on Friday, we were treated to a heavily redacted affidavit that was supposed to have laid out the beleaguered bureau’s justification for its action.

“The government is conducting a criminal investigation concerning the improper removal and storage of classified information in unauthorized spaces, as well as the unlawful concealment or removal of government records,” an anonymous FBI agent wrote on the first page of the 38-page affidavit, 24 pages of which were either fully or partially blacked out.

“I think I speak for everyone … we’re all pretty disappointed to see it was almost all redacted.” So said New Hampshire Republican Governor Chris Sununu to CNN’s Dana Bash on Sunday. “I get you’ve got to redact certain things here and there, but you had pages upon pages upon pages redacted to the point where you say, ‘Well, what’s the point?’”

Exactly that. What’s the point? And where’s the transparency that this unprecedented incident calls for?

The FBI’s raid of Trump’s home was ostensibly in connection with an investigation into the former president potentially violating the Espionage Act by taking home classified documents. But as constitutional expert Mark Levin noted on his Sunday night show: “A former president has the legal right to access any and all of the documents created during his presidency, classified or unclassified. Period.”

Levin further noted that Donald Trump and his team had been cooperating with the National Archivist concerning the documents he was keeping at his Mar-a-Lago estate, and that fact alone should’ve kept the FBI from sniffing around in former First Lady Melania Trump’s drawers. But no.

“The political Hacks and Thugs had no right under the Presidential Records Act to storm Mar-a-Lago and steal everything in sight,” said an indignant Donald Trump, “including passports and privileged documents. They even broke into my safe with a safecracker. … This act was created for a very good reason, and it works. We are right now living in a Lawless Country, that just so happens to be, also, a Failing Nation!”

Upon reviewing pages 9-29 of the document, which is the meat of the affidavit, one can’t help but feel a sense of outrage toward those behind it. They’ve blacked out nearly everything on those 21 pages. And one can’t help but wonder: What are they hiding?

The home of our most recent past president was raided by the FBI in a manner unmatched in all of American history, and the administration that ordered the raid doesn’t think we deserve an explanation? Joe Biden’s attorney general cobbles together a ridiculously broad search warrant — a warrant that Levin and National Review’s Andrew McCarthy and others believe is in violation of Donald Trump’s Fourth Amendment right against unlawful searches and seizures — and we don’t get to know exactly why? The current presidential administration seems poised to indict its predecessor and its likely future political opponent, and all the American people get are generalized allegations and page after page of redactions?

This is what the collapse of the Rule of Law looks like. This — and the Russia collusion hoax and the whole Hunter Biden cover-up — is what the rule of crooked men looks like.

The Daily Signal provides an excellent in-depth explanation of what the affidavit tells us and doesn’t tell us — and there’s a lot more of the latter than the former.

The Washington Examiner’s Byron York echoes this frustration: “We learned that the National Archives and Records Administration found boxes filled with ‘newspapers, magazines, printed news articles, photos, miscellaneous print-outs, notes, presidential correspondence, person and post-presidential records, and a lot of classified records,’ which sounds about right, given our knowledge of the level or organization in Trumpworld. But we still don’t know the answer to the most important question of the whole Mar-a-Lago affair: What are the documents about?”

Former federal prosecutor and South Carolina Congressman Trey Gowdy put it this way on his “Sunday Night in America” show on Fox News:

Many Americans still have questions. These questions are not political. They are factual and legal. If you are contemplating indicting a former president, I think we’re entitled to more than 38 pages of black lines and DOJ leaks. … Clearly, the department is talking to liberal reporters. If you’re going to tell the story, tell it all and tell everyone, tell the American people. Don’t claim you can’t comment on uncharged conduct. … If there is a case to indict a former president, give us what you got.

Perhaps some people have already made up their minds, but many have not. They want more information. Is this really about the return of documents, or something else? If it’s about the return of documents, they are back now. So why is the DOJ saying that the investigation is just beginning? What’s at stake are two foundational beliefs: that no one is above or beneath the law, not even former presidents; and number two, similar facts should lead to similar outcomes. Justice should be the same for everyone, and never be used as a political weapon. This is important for the country. So give us more than 38 pages of redacted nothingness.

Indeed, give us more. Give us a lot more. Fundamental fairness and decency demand it.

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