I had planned to devote this newsletter to Our Very Stupid Politics, but after the events of last night, I had to call an audible, and so will instead devote today’s Morning Shots to our Extremely Stupid Politics.
Make sure you read Kim Wehle’s piece in today’s Bulwark: “The FBI Search of Mar-a-Lago: Five Takeaways and Questions.”
Here is what you need to keep in mind: (1) We don’t know what we don’t know about this investigation, (2) We really don’t know exactly what they were looking for or what they found, (3) And no, an indictment of Donald J. Trump is probably not imminent.
(1) This is a BFD historic, political, and legal moment, (2) The FBI raid would not have occurred without a green light from a federal judge who was persuaded that the evidence warranted a raid on the home of a former president of the United States, (3) Nothing like this has ever happened before, (4) But it is a reminder that in our country no one is above the law — including ex-presidents.
The search obviously took Trump by surprise and set off a political firestorm (about which more in a moment), but it’s safe to assume that Attorney General Merrick Garland, the FBI, and a federal judge, all knew that it would set off this kind of reaction.
And they pulled the trigger anyway.
They also must have known that by raiding Trump’s home, the DOJ would be crossing the Rubicon… there’s no going back now.
Minor criminal charges will not spark a minor political reaction. Bigger charges are not actually more incendiary that middle-of-the-road charges because the rage meter is always dialed up to 11.
For the MAGA right, any charge — technical or major — will be a Flight 93 moment all over again.
So this is not a moment for the faint of heart or the naïfs who think they can bring a pen to a gun fight.
If anything, I think I understated the case, because it is about to get very ugly.
But while it was predictable that the MAGAverse would erupt in incandescent, spittle-flecked fury, the reaction of the anti-anti-Trumpers and the GOP “establishment” is more telling — and perhaps decisive — for our deplorable political future.
Trump has spent years sowing distrust of federal law enforcement and the “deep state,” and last night we saw how deeply his campaign of subversion has penetrated into the GOP ranks.
Elected Republicans, who frequently remind us that they are the party of law and order, could have (1) Adopted a posture of strategic silence, or (2) Given the FBI the benefit of the doubt while they conduct a court-sanctioned investigation. Instead, they gave us this sort of thing, including threats of retaliation against the attorney general:
The usual GOP suspects jumped in:
Meanwhile, US senators accused the government of (checks notes) acting like a Communist dictatorship.
We got a lot more of this sort of thing from the party that “Backs the Blue”:
Of course, we also heard from the usual fluffers:
And this bold new slogan for GOPers:
…which was echoed by one of the right’s more prominent convicted criminals: ‘We Need to Choke Down the FBI’: Steve Bannon Rails Against ‘Gestapo’ Feds After Mar-a-Lago Raid
And, of course, Dinesh….
And Paul Gosar, “We must destroy the FBI.”
Meanwhile, others used the raid as a pretext to demand retribution:
For some of the right, payback includes full-blown purges: “Laura Ingraham Demands Republicans Purge the Government if They Retake Power: ‘Military Leadership, the Civilian Leadership, the Civil Service, Those in Congress…”
Irony is, of course, dead.
ICYMI: The anti-anti-Trump Fair-Haired Boy also weighed in, hitting all the right MAGA notes about the “regime.”
BONUS: Make sure you read Amanda Carpenter’s latest piece in this morning’s Bulwark: “Ron DeSantis Endorses Election Deniers.”
Exit take: The GOP now fully embraces the notion that Trump should, indeed, be above the law, and that Trump 2.0 will be a bonfire of vengeance.
Our Stupid Politics, Wisconsin Edition
Today’s GOP primary for governor may end up being decided by a prom date. Via Dan Bice at the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel:
In a private meeting with construction executive Tim Michels in April, Trump complained about a 2019 tweet by Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch in which she posted a picture of her daughter with the son of Supreme Court Justice Brian Hagedorn.
The tweet showed the two teenagers dressed up in formal wear and headed to a high school homecoming event. A political ally then retweeted the post, suggesting it was the beginning of a "Hagedorn-Kleefisch political dynasty in Wisconsin."
Hagedorn, who ran as a conservative, has been criticized heavily by Republicans after being a swing vote in high-profile decisions involving pandemic-related restrictions and Trump's efforts to overturn Wisconsin's last presidential election. In response, Trump attacked the Wisconsin jurist on Twitter in late 2020.
"Trump was aware of these tweets" with the photo of Kleefisch and Hagedorn's children, said a source who was in the room during the Michels meeting. "And it bothered him."
Trump endorsed Michels, who narrowly leads Kleefisch in the polls.
Leopards Eating Faces Party Update
Trump is also targeting Robin Vos, the state’s top legislative Republican, because Vos has refused to decertify the 2020 election, which is, of course legally, impossible.
Vos had tried to appease Trump by appointing a Special Investigator to probe the non-existent election fraud. The probe, headed by former Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman cost taxpayers nearly a million dollars, and quickly descended into farce. Gableman turned out to be a super-sized one-man clown car — and is now lashing out at the man who gave him the job: Via the Racine Journal-Times: “Michael Gableman turns on Robin Vos, endorses primary challenger Adam Steen.”
Vos hit back yesterday, by accusing his own investigator of being a lying charlatan:
Trump bet that the DoJ didn't have the balls to come after him.
Trump lost that bet yesterday.
As I sip my morning coffee for my daily routine of Morning Shots with Charlie, I cannot help but think of the dark reality JVL is going to pull me into this afternoon.