The FBI raid on former U.S. President Donald J. Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence in Florida triggered shockwaves across Russia, with outraged Kremlin propagandists rushing to defend their favorite American president and going so far as to predict that the raid will eventually spark a civil war in the United States.
When Trump lost the last presidential election to Joe Biden, experts and pundits in Moscow worried out loud that his prosecution for a bevy of potential offenses is imminent. They even contemplated offering their beloved “Trumpushka” asylum in Russia. As time went by, Putin’s mouthpieces became convinced that Trump was in the clear, and their fears subsided.
On Monday’s broadcast of The Evening With Vladimir Solovyov, the host and his panelists praised the participants of the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) and expressed their admiration for Trump and his allies. The same day, appearing on state TV program 60 Minutes, military expert Igor Korotchenko openly called for Russia to support Trump’s candidacy in the 2024 elections.
News of the raid landed in Moscow with a thud, as angry propagandists embellished the search with made-up details, claiming that “one hundred FBI agents” and hordes of police dogs rummaged through Mar-a-Lago. On Tuesday’s broadcast of 60 Minutes, Korotchenko angrily condemned the raid: “There is a straight-up witch hunt happening in America. Trump, as the most popular politician in the United States—who has every chance of prevailing in the upcoming presidential election—was chosen as such a witch,” he raged. “They won’t just be vilifying him, they will be strangling him. These raids, involving dozens of FBI officers and police dogs—this is worse than McCarthyism, my friends! This is a symbol of inordinate despotism.”
In the days preceding the raid, the host of 60 Minutes, Evgeny Popov, who is also a deputy of Russia’s State Duma, repeatedly referred to Trump as Russia’s “friend,” “protégé”, and a favored candidate, but cautiously added that Moscow is yet to decide on who to support in the upcoming U.S. elections. On Tuesday, Popov said: “As soon as Donald Trump complained that Biden was the worst president in the history of the United States, which is fast becoming a third world country, there was a knock on Donald’s door: “Knock-knock, this is the FBI!” More than one hundred agents stormed in and searched Trump’s Florida residence, Mar-a-Lago.” Popov joked that the agents were said to have found a couple of matryoshka, Putin’s portrait, a pioneer scarf, two icons, a parachute, and a chained bear with balalaika.
Without a hint of irony, the state TV host described the search of the former president’s home as a symptom of political persecution of dissidents in the United States. “Dozens of agents ransacked every office, went through every box, and took every document that was of interest to them. It is thought that the FBI was interested in the Top Secret documents supposedly taken by the ex-president from the White House... Biden, with his dictatorial tendencies, repressions, and persecution of dissidents, is turning America into Ukraine. He already did that, since the opposition is being persecuted by authorities,” Popov said. He fantasized that as the result of the raid, Florida would split from the United States and its new constitution would feature Trump’s assertion that there are only two genders: male and female.
Decorated Kremlin propagandist Vladimir Solovyov started Tuesday’s broadcast of his radio program, Full Contact With Vladimir Solovyov, by bringing up the raid of Trump’s Florida digs. He brought on state TV correspondent Valentin Bogdanov, reporting from New York City. “You couldn’t say we didn’t anticipate this turn of events. Machinery, meant to squeeze Trump out of political life, has been activated... They want to deprive him of an opportunity to participate in the upcoming presidential election... All of this is designed to create a nasty aura, to make Trump more toxic.”
Summing up the potential penalties for the suspected removal of top secret government documents, Bogdanov said they weren’t all that bad and were limited to a three-year prison term or a fine. He added: “The scariest consequence is that a person convicted for such a crime can’t be a candidate in the presidential election. Bingo! That’s what his opponents want: to deprive him of the opportunity to take part in this race.”
Assuming that Trump would be knocked out of the upcoming presidential election, Bogdanov speculated that Florida governor Ron DeSantis—whom he described as “Number Two” in the GOP—could easily defeat Joe Biden.
Solovyov asked: “Could this be the beginning of a civil war?” He ominously opined: “This is totally unprecedented, I don’t remember anything like this in American history. If Trump calls on his supporters to come out—and half the states are led by Trump’s allies—there’ll be hell to pay.”
Bogdanov replied: “The civil war is already underway in the United States. For now, this is a cold civil war, but it keeps heating up.”