Since the FBI searched Mar-a-Lago, former President Donald Trump’s Florida home, big media have been churning out stories about how the raid on Trump’s turf has pushed some conservatives to abandon their support for law enforcement.
On Thursday, Aug. 18, CNN anchor Alisyn Camerota took off on the odd Republican who mocked the “defund the police” campaign only to embrace going after FBI funding. “The FBI was just doing their job,” she said.
This narrative rests on two premises:
Let me start with the second point first.
Conservatives have had issues with federal prosecutorial overreach for decades. It’s not a new thing.
Since President Bill Clinton signed the 1994 Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act — with the fierce support of then-Sen. Joe Biden — activists on the left and the right have come to see that Washington’s war on drugs has led to draconian sentences for nonviolent drug offenders — especially if they didn’t snitch.
The Texas Public Policy Foundation formed Right on Crime in 2007 to champion conservative approaches to law enforcement. The group’s executive director, Brett Tolman, is a former U.S. attorney.
One of the things he learned on that job, he told me, is that “[t]he FBI doesn’t like to be told that they’re wrong.”
“They want more power, and they want more capability, and they are unapologetic about it, and they are one of the strongest lobbies in Washington, D.C.,” Tolman offered.
Don’t knock the FBI? Big shots in the line of command fell for the risible Steele “dossier,” a discreditation attempt that led to a pricey and lengthy investigation into an alleged collusion between Moscow and the Trump 2016 campaign. Even when the feds had to know they were wrong, they kept the probe going. (READ MORE: Yes, Biden Admin Knew About FBI Probe Into Trump and Pushed It)
Back to the Mar-a-Lago searches.
As someone who used to authorize searches, Tolman said he has strong opinions on the matter. “I know this didn’t have to go down the way it did,” he said, speaking of how agents handled the search.
The facility wasn’t wide open, noted Tolman. It was secured by the Secret Service. There’s an election in two months, so the timing’s a bad look.
The FBI never searched the home of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton after learning that the wannabe president had used a personal email server to store and share classified information, Tolman added. Hunter Biden’s laptop? No possible national security issue here.
This isn’t “whataboutism,” as Department of Justice boosters suggest. If Attorney General Merrick Garland wants the public to have faith in his DOJ, he should have delayed the search or presented information that bolsters the action.
Given the FBI’s bad choices in regard to Trump, I wouldn’t assume there’s no animus involved. But then, I wouldn’t take Trump at his word either.
I’ve decided to wait for more information before weighing in on the Mar-a-Lago raid. But I agree with Tolman, who said, “They better have something really good to justify it.”
Debra J. Saunders is a fellow at the Discovery Institute’s Chapman Center for Citizen Leadership. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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