The FBI searched Donald Trump’s private residence at Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Florida, on Monday. Kansas and Missouri Republicans want you to know that you might be next. It’s nonsense, of course.
Kansas Sen. Roger Marshall was first out of the gate Monday evening, warning on Twitter that the FBI’s search — along with a Democratic plan to hire thousands of new IRS auditors — means that “no one is safe from political persecution.”
“Is this equal application of the law?” he asked. “Or is this a political hit job?”
Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley joined in Tuesday morning, with a similarly dark message.
“The raid by Joe Biden’s FBI on the home of a former president who is also Biden’s chief political opponent is an unprecedented assault on democratic norms and the rule of law,” Hawley wrote on Twitter. “Biden has taken our republic into dangerous waters.”
Let’s start with one stipulation here: We don’t actually know for sure why the FBI searched Mar-a-Lago. The agency itself hasn’t made any public comment, and Trump — so far at least — hasn’t publicly released the text of the search warrant that agents left behind. Everybody who is shouting about the supposed travesty of investigating a former president is doing so in the absence of important information. We will surely learn more in the coming days and weeks.
That said, the unstated idea behind Marshall and Hawley’s angry tweets is that Trump was a normal president — and it’s the reaction to him that’s unhinged.
Obviously that’s not true. Not even close. It insults the intelligence of the senators’ constituents to pretend otherwise.
After all, we have just been through a summer of televised hearings by the House committee investigating Jan. 6, 2021, which laid out in extensive detail how the members of Trump’s inner circle knew he’d lost the election — including his daughter, Ivanka — and how advisers such as then-Attorney General Bill Barr told him there was no evidence the election had been stolen from him. Trump decided to keep lying about the election results anyway, and does so to this day. The result of his refusal to accept reality? A violent attack on the U.S. Capitol, one in which rioters chanted their desire to lynch Trump’s own vice president.
All of that was unusual, to say the least.
One might even call those events “an unprecedented assault on democratic norms and the rule of law.”
Marshall and Hawley were neck-deep in all that abnormality. One of Marshall’s very first acts as a U.S. senator was to vote against certifying Joe Biden’s presidential victory. Hawley not only led that effort — he gave that famous hearty fist-pump to the gathering crowds surrounding the Capitol on Jan. 6. As we now know, though, he also fled the Senate chambers at top speed when those same crowds broke into the building.
The two men arguably broke their oaths to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States.” That’s unusual, too.
That is also why their warnings fall flat.
Marshall complains about “equal application of the law,” but if you were accused of stealing something that wasn’t yours — an election, to be sure, or maybe the classified government documents Trump reportedly took to Florida when he left the White House — then law enforcement would come after you, too. Trump is not a king. He’s a citizen of the United States, subject to the same laws as the rest of us.
And while Hawley is correct to sound the alarm that the American republic is now in “dangerous waters,” that’s only because Trump — not Biden — took us there.
Marshall and Hawley helped take us to this place, which perhaps is why they’ve reacted with such vehemence to news of the FBI’s search. They’re wrong, however. The reaction to Trump is unprecedented, yes — but only because Trump’s lawlessness is unprecedented, too.
Joel Mathis is a freelance opinion writer and regular contributer to McClatchy. He is based in Lawrence.