The FBI raid on Mar-a-Lago will either make Donald Trump a criminal or a martyr

·3 min read

We need to take a breath, whether we like it or not.

We don’t know anything for certain yet about the results of the search warrant executed on former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate.

And yet news of the FBI raid has sent Trump and his supporters into a caterwauling frenzy unseen since Anthony Perkins pulled back the shower curtain on Janet Leigh in “Psycho.”

Trying to prove his Trump bona fides, for example, was Republican House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy. He issued a statement on Twitter reading in part, “The Department of Justice has reached an intolerable state of weaponized politization.”

AG Garland is not one for bold moves

He goes going on to threaten Attorney General Merrick Garland with investigation after the midterm elections.

What McCarthy knows, however, and what everyone in Washington, D.C., knows, is that Garland is a cautious man.

He does not make bold moves.

He is not reckless.

If anything, his critics call him overly cautious.

In order for federal investigators to get a search warrant for the home of a former president, the Department of Justice would have had to convince a federal judge that they believe it contained evidence relevant to a criminal investigation that might be hidden or in danger of being destroyed.

That is not an easy sell when the home is owned by an average American. Imagine how difficult it must be when it’s owned by a former president.

Trump's 'cooperation' doesn't sell

Donald Trump at a recent campaign event in Wisconsin.
Donald Trump at a recent campaign event in Wisconsin.

Trump issued a statement saying in part, “My beautiful home Mar A Lago in Palm Beach, Florida is currently under siege, raided and occupied by a large group of FBI agents … After working and cooperating with the relevant government agencies, this unannounced raid at my home was not necessary or appropriate.”

Apparently, the judge disagreed.

But we won’t know anything about what was found, if anything, or what it proves, if anything, until the justice department acts. And that could take time.

Or, Donald Trump could tell us.

A search warrant will contain what investigators are looking for. When completed, those same investigators will leave behind an inventory of what they seized. It also may note what crimes are suspected.

The many Republicans demanding answers from the DOJ could simply pick up the phone and call Trump. Or Trump himself could simply release all the information.

It's his choice.

Until then, we don’t know what it all means forTrump.

What seems pretty clear, however, is that the end result either will have Trump charged as a criminal or lionized as a martyr.

Meantime, expect Republicans to continue screaming louder than Jamie Lee Curtis in “Halloween.”

That little disqualifier in federal law

Perhaps because they believe the FBI was most likely looking for classified documents in Trump’s estate. Documents that should have remained in the White House and been shipped to the National Archives.

And they know as well that federal law – specifically 18 USC 2071 – prohibits taking classified documents home, saying in part that a person removing any “book, paper, document or other thing … shall be fined under this title imprisoned not more than three years, or both.”

And adding that anyone in possession of such documents “shall forfeit his office and be disqualified from holding any office under the United States.”

In other words, we will find out (hopefully soon) if the idea that no one in America is above the law means anything or not.

After which we might all have something to scream about.

Reach Montini at

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This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: FBI raid will either make Donald Trump a criminal or a martyr