They are going to keep lying.
In a rare example of good news, the former president of the United States, Donald J. Trump, had his Florida home raided by the FBI. The news that the investigative agency searched and confiscated materials from Trump’s house under a warrant is a blessing in a normally horrific news cycle. And most importantly, it reveals how far federal law enforcement is willing to go with their case against the former president and how far Republicans are willing to go to defend a corrupt oligarch.
HOW REPUBLICANS REACTED
Needless to say, Republicans are not having a good time with the news. Many took to Twitter later that night to decry what they saw as an attack on their beloved president. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy went so far as to tweet that the investigation was a blatant political attack on Republicans and Trump, arguing that they should investigate the FBI once in power.
Others attempted to terrify their base, seemingly suggesting that the FBI had somehow violated Trump’s rights with the raid. Elise Stefanik (R-NY) tweeted her own statement, arguing that if the FBI could raid a president’s home, they could raid anyone, seemingly forgetting that the FBI already can do that if they get a warrant.
All this pearl-clutching by Republican leadership is remarkable since the same Republican Party has consistently made itself into the symbolic power of law and order. Trump himself used the phrase consistently throughout his presidency.
Despite that consistent branding, Republicans have seemingly forgotten what the law says regarding this investigation. After all, Trump is accused of violating 44 USC §§ 2201–2209, more commonly known as the Presidential Records Act. Under this act, all presidential materials are public property and must be turned over to the National Archives once the president’s time in office ends.
Trump repeatedly failed to provide documents to the archives, and some had to be removed from Mar-A-Lago by the National Archives earlier this year. Some of the documents were reported to be highly classified. In other words, Trump was found to have violated the act without any serious punishment, only for the FBI to come back and seek further evidence of wrong-doing.
WHY THIS MATTERS
It is easy to celebrate and assume that this will guarantee some sort of legal victory over Trump. And believe me, I celebrated. However, assuming victory before seeing charges is a mistake and will only cause more disappointment.
It is critical to keep our attention on countering propaganda about the investigation against Trump and those around him. Republicans will do everything in their power to misrepresent and downplay the investigation’s significance, and that can’t go without a backlash.
Even now, Trump faces yet another legal challenge from New York Attorney General Letitia James, who plans to depose him this week. If the pattern of Republican outrage holds true here, we can expect to see the same victim narrative. Said narrative must never get an ounce of legitimacy. Holding Trump to account means defeating his lies.