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The Biden Administration’s Grave Mar-a-Lago Mistake

Posted on Saturday, August 13, 2022
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by Daniel Berman
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AMAC Exclusive – By Daniel Berman

Talleyrand once remarked of a particularly egregious act on the part of his oft-capricious master, Napoleon Bonaparte, that “it was worse than a crime. It was a mistake.” That famous quote, it seems, captures the situation Democrats now find themselves in following the raid on Donald Trump’s home at Mar-a-Lago.

Taking a step back from the justifiable outrage over the recent FBI raid on Mar-a-Lago, and from concerns over the damage it inflicted on the reputation of law enforcement and fraying respect for partisan norms, a bigger mystery emerges. What, precisely did the Biden administration – and Attorney General Merrick Garland in particular – hope the raid would accomplish if they approved it? And what possible justification exists which would justify for Democrats throwing away the argument on which they have hung their opposition to Donald Trump, both in and out of office for the last seven years, about the importance of “norms” over the strict letter of what is legal?

The answers are not pretty. We now know Attorney General Merrick Garland authorized the raid personally, ostensibly over a dispute regarding classified material. We further know that the DOJ and FBI have been in talks with the former president’s team for months, and twice, upon request, documents have been transferred to DC. Two conclusions emerge. First, that it was clearly possible to settle these disputes over the security of documents civilly and without a recourse to force. Secondly, even if negotiations had broken down temporarily over particular documents, the urgency of any raid must be called into question. Whatever documents were at the center of the dispute, whether “nuclear” or related to French President Emmanuel Macron, they had been in Mar-a-Lago for over 18 months. The onus of the FBI and the Biden administration must be to prove why their presence in Florida did not pose a threat to national security justifying this sort of unprecedented raid for 18 months, but somehow did in month 19.

Let us first consider the most generous interpretation. That Garland, like Victor Hugo’s Inspector Javert from Les Misérables, believes that there is no potential crime too petty to justify treating it like a terrorist plot. Javert was an illustration of how blind principle could produce stupidity bordering on madness. In this case, if any such individuals believed that the presence of insecure classified records at Mar-a-Lago posed a national security threat, the nature of this raid ensures that the most critical national security concerns will be impossible to accomplish. Learning what records are missing and where they are is far more important to American national security than recovering a portion of them. If the FBI knows what is missing, it can take steps to remedy any vulnerabilities. Yet by raiding the home of the former president, the FBI has ensured a lack of further cooperation both by Donald Trump, who even if he wished to cooperate will not be permitted to do so by his lawyers, and by local law enforcement. Even if FBI officials were entirely disinterested in the partisan dynamics of the issue, and merely concerned with the letter of the law and national security, they have left themselves and the country worse off.

If the FBI can get off with pigheadedness, even if malice seems plausible, the Biden administration cannot get off so easily. After all, they, along with congressional Democrats and the media, have spent years lecturing everyone about the vital importance of “norms.”

The premise of Democratic discourse about “norms” is that there are informal rules on which the American system is founded. They may not be strictly legal or constitutional, but they serve a strong regulatory function. While it has become clear that many of these norms have been distorted or hijacked through institutional capture to advance a “woke” or partisan agenda, there is truth that norms have played an important role in human society. The heart of any conception of norms is that there are things you could legally do, but you do not because the consequences of doing so would be undesirable.

The irony of the raid is that it is perhaps the best example of the clash between norms and laws. It might very well be the case that some classified documents were unaccounted for, that the FBI had reason to believe they might be at Mar-a-Lago, and that “technically” this was a justification for a search warrant. It was also the case that Donald Trump was a former president, Joe Biden was his opponent in a bitterly contested election, and there remains a strong prospect of a rematch. Such a raid would involve armed law enforcement ultimately answerable to Joe Biden being used to raid the home of his possible opponent in the next election. Even if the raid was legal, and the documents real, that would have to be weighed against the perception the action was partisan, the destruction of faith in the institution of the FBI, and the tradition of not persecuting political opponents within the American system.

Just as Democrats argued Donald Trump should have foregone legal challenges he was entitled to undertake after the election, the exact same argument would have applied even more strongly to forgoing this raid given the likely damage to vital institutions. Instead, the Biden administration decided that when it comes to norms, only Donald Trump is obligated to follow them. Their hands are tied when some partisan lawyer presents them with a brief telling them what they want to hear.

It is stunning that this is the argument they have gone with. In the realm of public opinion, the raid took place on an issue that even to partisans looks petty. Even for the MSNBC-watching wine moms of America, the purported audience of the January 6 hearings, misplacing classified material sounds like jay-walking when contrasted with charges of coups, foreign plots, and other intrigues. The justification for the raid is one that even those who would claim the former president attempted some sort of “coup” cannot pretend to believe is important.

The effect then is to destroy the relative importance of the reasons why Democratic partisans hate the former president. By suggesting that an unprecedented raid on a man who may well be a candidate for president again in 2024 is justified on whatever basis is available because “he is a threat to the Constitution” is to confirm all of the charges that they are out to get Donald Trump, specific reasons to be determined later.

The “norms” argument has always been conveniently one-sided when it came from Democrats. It applied to Donald Trump when it came to personnel appointments, personal access to Twitter, and the 2020 election, but did not apply to Democrats or their supporters when it came to the Supreme Court. But if the argument suffered from hypocrisy already, its reduction to a technicality has finally killed it. By ordering the raid, the Biden administration has asserted that alleged mishandling of various documents is more important than the reputation of the nation’s top law enforcement agencies or the integrity of the Constitutional system in the eyes of tens of millions. And if, as is plausible, they saw political advantage in the raid, then they are willing to trade their own short-term political advantage for that same discrediting of institutions. In either case, it appears to have been worse than a crime. In destroying their own rationale for opposition to Donald Trump, Democrats may have made a mistake of historic proportions.

Daniel Berman is a frequent commentator and lecturer on foreign policy and political affairs, both nationally and internationally. He holds a Ph.D. in International Relations from the London School of Economics. He also writes as Daniel Roman.   

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Jerry White
Jerry White
1 year ago

Their actions just insures 2022 and 2024 a super majority for our President Donald Trump

Mike Young
Mike Young
1 year ago

A whole lot of words that go on and on to make one simple point which could be summed up in one paragraph. BTW I do agree but why such a long drawn out essay? It reminds me of an eighth grader who is required to submit a certain number of words, so they go on and on about the very same point.

H L Howell
H L Howell
1 year ago

The democrat party is in itself a huge mistake.

Kevin Vienneau
Kevin Vienneau
1 year ago

This is a great article covering one of the most unjustifiable events in American history. The hope of course is that it galvanizes the upcoming red tsunami, and that this never happens again.

Larry Thorpe
Larry Thorpe
1 year ago

I only have to say that the Demorat’s have shown the reason they have a Jackass as a Mascot they certainly live up to the Image

PaulE
PaulE
1 year ago

The one good thing that might come out of this administration’s complete over-reach at Mar-A-Lago is that hopefully even the most ignorant of people out there will finally understand exactly what the Democrat Party is really all about. There is NO DISTINCTION between the regimes of third-world despots and communist leaders and that of the Democrat Party. Same exact tactics and methods. Same total disregard for the rights and freedoms of everyone but themselves. Rule of law means nothing to them as the only rules they acknowldge are those that they simply make up as they go along. Then they only apply those rules to the people they target for retribution.

JEFFREY JONES
JEFFREY JONES
1 year ago

Arrest the whole biden administration and send them to GITMO for punishment!

Richard Minetti
Richard Minetti
1 year ago

Good article Daniel!!!!

Andrew P
Andrew P
1 year ago

It is only a mistake if they lose their quest to send Trump to prison. That has yet to be determined.

oakhill1863
oakhill1863
1 year ago

Donald Trump has to stop hiring TV lawyers and get real ones.

Trump ought to be filing a Federal Bivens action for violating his Constitutional rights against Merrick Garland, the FBI, and other Federal actors. He should not name Biden–yet–because that would likely stay the action until Biden is no longer in office.

This raid was clearly improper. They are investigating Trump for alleged crimes for which the Senate has already tried him and found him not guilty of incitement to insurrection. The current investigation, incuding the raid, constitute double jeopardy.

No, the fact that this raid ostensibly is for National archives records, not January 6 records does not change the analysis. Rather, it aggravates the offense against Trump because the government is engaged in pretext–as always with Trump. And the past Russian Collusion fakery by the government is entirely admissible evidence to increase Trump’s damages to the stratosphere.

Jacob
Jacob
1 year ago

The author of this piece lives in a MAGA fantasy land. The stupidity is jaw-dropping.

Larkenson
Larkenson
1 year ago

Asia for the Asians, Africa for the Africans, but White countries for EVERYBODY?
That’s Genocide!
Anti-racist is a code word for Anti-White.

MICHAEL AL FLAIR
MICHAEL AL FLAIR
1 year ago

Jonathan Turley said the same thing. He is astonished that the Biden Admin / DOJ did not see this as significant, and they did not expect the backlash. This will be the final straw that breaks the camels back for the DC Ruling Elites. The Get Trump process has failed, the charade is over, the 6 ways from sunday guys are overly exposed, and the future will be signifcantly different than the current for the USA Federal Government.

Rick Wendel
Rick Wendel
1 year ago

Totally agree. The Mar-a-Lago raid was disgusting. Pure Banana Republic. Thank God it seems to have backfired on them.
Now, who will pay the price for this lawlessness?

djaymick
djaymick
1 year ago

What goes around, comes around. And I hope the GOP give the Democrats a taste of their own medicine.

Louis Margolis
Louis Margolis
1 year ago

Democrats are desperate to do something because of midterms. They must distract Americans. The massive spending bills and restriction of US output created this inflation and hurt 60% of Americans or 200 million people. The outrageous naming of Inflation Reduction Bill is to insult all Americans. The flagrant contempt of Americans is beyond belief.

Dorine
Dorine
1 year ago

I no longer give the benefit of the doubt. Everything these Democrats do is to force their choices on us.. and everything they do in regard to Donald Trump is to try and erase his Presidency.. Note they took ALL the Presidential records, even though they received paperwork while he was President declassifying those same records.. Another day, Another made-up hoax!

Maddie Oh
Maddie Oh
1 year ago

Let’s not forget for a moment the very real possibility that Trump is a Russian asset, at worst and at least, and most likely, he is stupid enough to be used by Putin and other enemies of the US.

David Beiler
David Beiler
1 year ago

Noooo, no AMAC: It’s not the Biden “Administration”. It’s the Biden REGIME.

bob smith
bob smith
1 year ago

the usa is toast. deep state overwhelms everything in its path, especially trump

John Brown
John Brown
1 year ago

Democrats started corrupting & turning the DOJ/FBI into their Nazi like Gestapo under Obama. That ship sailed for sue w Russia Russia. Nobody is surprised Biden/Democrats are behaving like Nazis. The only surprise here is that they picked such an obviously Stupid & False reason. What it also Demonstrates is they intend to seize total power. Only a party so sure that they can have and/or will steal total power would risk such stupidity. This was the kind of Demonstration of arrogance & power we see from totalitarian tyrants like Putin. PUTIN’s next step against his political opposition is assassination. Usually by poison.

Becky A Mauldon
Becky A Mauldon
1 year ago

Your misogyny and disdain for women (especially moms) are on full display.

krc2020
krc2020
1 year ago

“…the destruction of faith in the institution of the FBI…” Faith in the FBI was gone long before this incident, which only reconfirmed what we already know. The FBI must be abolished.

Ronsch
Ronsch
1 year ago

The material found in the search was literally stolen material. The National Archives requested the return of documents and material and gave him months to comply. The search occurred only when it became clear national security was involved. No other President has ever conducted such a theft. What has happened to the “law and order” Party? Is criminal behavior okay as long as it’s a Republican? Is Trump above the law? What kind of “law and order” Party can it be if exceptions to laws exist? What kind believes threats to national security don’t matter?

Daniel
Daniel
1 year ago

Oh stop it. They weren’t looking for anything specific, they just wanted to violate him and they did just that. They’re trying to scare him and it’s not working. I wouldn’t go back in there unless it was gutted. Even in the first lady’s underwear drawer? That’s just plain sick. The FBI and the DOJ needs to go.

Duties
Duties
1 year ago

Democrats unquenchable quest for power has driven them to commit offenses that defy all norms.  Falsely accusing a president of collusion with Russia by a consortium – a political party, law enforcement, the intelligence community, and the media – and relentlessly pursuing it for three years, broke new ground.  Leveraging a glorified flu virus and imposing dystopian mandates and self imposed depression as a pretext to alter a national election, further perverted norms.  Engaging in election fraud of gargantuan proportion, witnessed by all and evidenced by undeniable corruption, destroyed any remaining confidence in our electoral system.  Subsequently repeating the mantra ‘there is no evidence of election fraud’, and persecuting anyone brazen enough to disagree, is a boa constrictor of deceit squeezing the remaining life from an honorable society.  The only norms now are awaiting the next travesty of justice, the absurd lies to justify them, and the cowardice of those who pretend to defend against those injustices. 

Oakley
Oakley
1 year ago

Great analysis of the Dems hypocrisy shouting for “norms”.

John Smithson
John Smithson
1 year ago

The more that comes out the more puzzled I am. Do the Democrats plan to indict Donald Trump based on the evidence they collected in the raid? The chances of them getting a conviction of Donald Trump for espionage are zero.

The raid may have been intended to cause embarrassment, and it has. Many Republican leaders have made only lukewarm protests because the FBI did find something bad. Some have not protested at all.

But as time goes on, the Attorney General has to prosecute, doesn’t he? And that will be a different story. Prosecuting a former president on these grounds will be a clown show. The problem is, how now do you not prosecute?

One thing is for sure, Donald Trump will not accept a plea bargain. No way. He’d go to jail first.

Christopher Anthony
Christopher Anthony
1 year ago

We need to get BOZO BIDEN AND HIS CRONIES out of ofc…. This family votes RED down the line!!! PROBLEM SOLVED !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! LOOK ABOVE !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

fritz baier
fritz baier
1 year ago

So lets say garland indicts trump , almost immediately trump will be elevated to martyr , his standing with the base will go up significantly, he will become a hero . Then of course there will be a trial , if trump is aquitted than congratulations democrats you have managed to make trump invincible , he will take a victory lap the public perception of the FBI as partisan instrument will harden and the calls for reforms will become louder !
If trump gets convicted he will claim that the 2024 election was stolen from him , that the trial was a plot to keep him from running because democrats knew he would win , the base will be out for blood which most certainly will mean that biden will face investigation and maybe once republicans regain the WH clinton finally will be indicted over her email server .
Whatever the outcome trump , MAGA and trumpism will be the winners and democrats will lose

John
John
1 year ago

This argument that if you don’t do something within a certain period of time, well, then, you must never do it at all is an absolutely fallacious one.

Douglas Proudfoot
Douglas Proudfoot
1 year ago

With jury nullification in DC, no Democrat will ever be convicted of any crime there. The next time there’s a Republican Congress and president, they need to remove the Criminal Division from the DC Circuit and attach it to Maryland instead. That way a change in venue for a criminal trial could be to somewhere outside DC, with a jury pool that doesn’t have 92% rabid Democrats. Since the District of Columbia was made up from land taken from Maryland, it would make sense to give the Criminal Division back to Maryland.

Bubby
Bubby
1 year ago

Unless there are consequences for the Democrats they will not change their behavior because they keep getting away with it.

It is really that simple.

Dave Marney
Dave Marney
1 year ago

This is a very insightful take on this messy situation. I agree that the FBI and the DOJ have, indeed, destroyed their own rationales for opposing Trump. By using a trivial basis for their actions, they’ve trivialized their own case.

But what if their objective isn’t to keep Trump out of the race, but to ensure that he must be in it? To ensure, in fact, that he is the only “legitimate” candidate on the right. To ensure that if Trump had any personal doubts about running, now he has to run so he can really “drain the swamp” this time.

In short, Trump is being manipulated by his own hot temper.

As you note,

“Yet by raiding the home of the former president, the FBI has ensured a lack of further cooperation both by Donald Trump, who even if he wished to cooperate will not be permitted to do so by his lawyers, and by local law enforcement.”

That’s an angle I hadn’t even considered. Even if Trump were to somehow dial it in and keep his temper in check, the FBI has made it legally inadvisable for him to resolve things agreeably. They’ve poked the bear and they have no intention of letting him stay in his cave.

What I would advise Republicans is to move even more strongly towards the passing of the baton to DeSantis. There’s no doubt in my mind that if DeSantis is the nominee he will not only win it running away, but he will be leading a broad coalition of voters who are ready to vote Republican for decades to come. On the other hand, if Trump is the nominee, it will be about him. He will lead a narrow coalition of voters who believe he was treated unfairly. That will last less than one term.

Tammy Clement
Tammy Clement
1 year ago

I’m not convinced that Biden is even aware of the raid or will remember that it happened after his nap.

j c
j c
1 year ago

show trials – attacks by the corrupt state on journalists, political opponents and their supporters are all behaviors we see in communist dictatorships. Heartbreaking to see it happening in America. There can be no justification. Desperate move by a failed and corrupt administration. Biden should step down now.

Honey
Honey
1 year ago

It is not norms that the left wants to return to.
It is not decency. It is not fewer bad tweets.
It is not white supremacists the left fears as they so often posit as the worst danger we face.
it is not Nazi behavior of Trump and his followers that we must stop. It is not violence or lawbreaking or lies or cover ups by Trump that they want to bring to the public’s attention.
It is not insurrection by Trump loyalists they fear.

All these are the things they hammer 24/7 as what we should all be afraid of. But that is all baloney.

These accusations the left makes of the right are the very things the left does all the time. Think projection. It fits always. The left doe it all.

The left does not dare allow Trump to regain power. The establishment Republicans also do not dare to allow Trump to regain power. Trump will not be polite anymore. The behavior of the left in their fear of Trump’s having power again has made it easy for Trump to end all pretense of cooperation and courtesy.

If Trump gets back in the White House, and please G-d let him do just that, this time he will mean business. He will go after his enemies and they will pay for their treasonous lies and crimes. They have only themselves to thank for what happens to them should that day arrive.

JayDee
JayDee
1 year ago

Well… Is there anyone who is going to do anything about it? What’s the recourse?

Would you counsel us to vote for a different corruptocrat? Does voting still matter after the hijinx that took place in 2020? You could line 100 people up and ask them for a show of hands if they still have undamaged faith in our electoral and judicial systems. Perhaps 8 would raise their hands and 5 of them would be lying. The remaining 3 would be patently irrational and delusional.

There is not a single official in any appropriate position of jurisdiction and authority who seems the slightest bit interested in the growing list of wrongs committed under color of law by the Biden administration.

“We The People” have grown lazy and complacent. We are an embarrassment to the founding fathers.

Scottymom
Scottymom
1 year ago

I think they were trying to find out what information president Trump had on the demonrats

Giordano Bruno
Giordano Bruno
1 year ago

This article is beyond well written . . . it’s downright poetic! Then there’s the delicious irony that FBI thuggery has convinced many, including myself, that Trump’s time to shine is 2024, when millions of RINO and leftist heads explode! And DeSantis will be there in 2028 to clean up after the elephants!

DBM
DBM
1 year ago

Why not Hillary too? Tit for tat!!

Mario Capparuccini
Mario Capparuccini
1 year ago

Democratic norms: Hunter Biden, attempted assassination of Justice Kavanaugh, firebombing pregnancy help centers, torching American cities, abandoning Afghanistan, Benghazi, Hilary’s emails, Fast and Furious, Obama’s use of IRS as a weapon. You get the idea. America died on 8/8. FBI+DOJ+Biden=Gestapo or KGB We have a lot of work ahead of us. That work starts with prayer to Almighty God. He raised His Son. He can raise this nation once again.

Tim Toroian
Tim Toroian
1 year ago

The precedent they set is terrible and very undemocratic and the dumbest thing the U.S. government has done since not signing the Treaty of Versailles. And maybe the League of Nations.

Michael Lewis
Michael Lewis
1 year ago

Does our government teach the whole people by its example?

Our government… teaches the whole people by its example. If the government becomes the lawbreaker, it breeds contempt for law; it invites every man to become a law unto himself; it invites anarchy. Democracy is the art and science of running the circus from the monkey cage.

I for one have lost faith in the FBI and the Justice Department. There is no longer equal treatment under law and these organizations are politicized. Why isn’t Hillary being prosecuted for improper handling of sensitive documents? Why isn’t Joe Biden’s son being investigated and his property seized? Why hasn’t Joe Biden been impeached for failure to enforce immigration law?

By what right do the government and the majority of corporate media determine what is and is not truth? That is the job of the American people!

Federal Campaign Laws have exempted the Corporate media, the voice of special interests and big money. The Democratic Party demanded these laws because corporations have too much money and influence in our elections. But, media corporations are corporations, with special interests and dependent on the advertising of yet other corporations and the wealthy.
The un-elected deep state bureaucracies have become the enemy of the electorate and the Republic!

Our leaders are criminals and they hate us for judging them!

Patricia A Arsenault
Patricia A Arsenault
1 year ago

WE LOVE YOU MR. TRUMP! COME BACK TO US!!! #AmericaFirst

Ruth Pierce
Ruth Pierce
1 year ago

A marvelously well-written article. Thank you, Daniel Berman, for informing us!!

Philip Hammersley
Philip Hammersley
1 year ago

The entire narrative is full of holes! If DJT had “nuclear secrets” why didn’t the feds pick them up in June ? Why did they get a warrant on Friday but not act until Monday? Why were they searching Melania’s closet? Why haven’t they released the affidavit which would give the REASON and the PERSON who wanted the warrant?
It’s just another DIVERSION to keep us from looking at Slow Joey’s many failures!

Nobody’s Business
Nobody’s Business
1 year ago

If anyone including all Democrats and media, and FBI would have thought this through would they have come up with Trump packed those boxes himself and then hid them in his wife’s underwear drawer? Seems far fetched to me. And not letting lawyers watch what was being searched everyone should be scared of that, for a couple reasons, they could plant their own evidence and if it can happen to any and all of us. What I heard that makes the most sense to me is a lot of the FBI agents involved in the raid are being investigated by Durham, and they wanted to find out what evidence Trump might have on that. Another thing the FBI didn’t think out before the raid is how many ordinary citizens now are going to refuse to talk to the corrupt FBI and the crazies out there may take it to extremes which will be a danger to some of the rank and file in the FBI. The lower people in FBI need to do more whistle blowing about the corruption in the higher ups of the FBI or else it will need to be dismantled completely and start a new agency where no political bias is allowed . And if anything looks political you are shot for Treason.

Bruce P
Bruce P
1 year ago

What about Hillary’s laptop and all of that confidential stuff? This truly is strictly political aggressive mudslinging.

jocko
jocko
1 year ago

THE ONCE GREAT AND HONORABLE fbi, IS NOW THE RUSSIAN, KGB

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