Merrick Garland Gets to the Point
Plus: Donald Trump’s grasp of the national interest.
Hi, everybody. Will here, taking a turn sitting in for JVL.
1. Four Minutes of Truth
God bless Merrick Garland.
In days since the FBI searched Mar-a-Lago for government records Donald Trump had shipped to his private residence there—and reportedly failed to return—prominent Republicans peddled wild allegations and demanded that Garland come forward to explain the “raid.”
On Thursday, we saw what such allegations can lead to: an attempted incursion at an FBI field office, culminating in a shootout that took the life of the suspect—a man who apparently claimed to have been at the U.S. Capitol on January 6th.
Let’s pause on that number. Here are the lengths of Trump’s last six speeches, as recorded by C-SPAN:
It’s comical to hear Trump’s lackeys, such as Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, compare the search of Mar-a-Lago to the tactics of “Marxists dictatorships” in Latin America. The guy who tried to run the United States like a dictatorship was Trump. To this day, he talks for hours, as Fidel Castro notoriously did, and his propagandists still think he has unfettered power. “No president can be guilty of illegally handling classified information, because the president has complete and final authority to decide whether something’s classified or not,” Rubio declared on Tuesday in a denunciation of the Mar-a-Lago search. The senator didn’t mention that Trump no longer has such authority, since he’s no longer president.
Garland didn’t need two hours to rebut this nonsense. In his four minutes, he made several key points:
First: “The search warrant was authorized by a federal court upon the required finding of probable cause.” The search wasn’t a unilateral move by the FBI or the “Biden Justice Department.” The application for the warrant had to go through a federal judge. So the paranoid scenarios floated by Trumpists, about American presidents ordering investigations into their predecessors, don’t follow from what happened here. The request was independently vetted.
Second: “Copies of both the warrant and the F.B.I. property receipt were provided on the day of the search to the former president’s counsel, who was on site during the search.” This directly refutes allegations that Trump’s lawyers were bypassed.
Third. “The department did not make any public statements on the day of the search. . . . Much of our work is by necessity conducted out of the public eye. We do that to protect the constitutional rights of all Americans.” This is a key point: DOJ and FBI didn’t make a big deal of the search. They went in plainclothes, while Trump was away, and tried to retrieve the requested documents without making a scene.
It was Trump who decided to hype it as a “raid.” Why?