The FBI’s raid on former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence has crossed the Rubicon with its use of government power against a former president, according to Heritage Foundation expert Cully Stimson.
If left unexplained, this raid may signal the beginning of even more cutthroat uses of government power, Stimson told The Epoch Times and its sister media outlet NTD Television Network.
“For the first time in American history, the Department of Justice executed a search warrant at the home of a former president,” said Stimson. “There’s no allegation that he has violated the Espionage Act, or [that] he is hoarding secrets to sell to a foreign government or exploit the fruits of his office.”
On Aug. 8, FBI agents raided Trump’s Florida home in search of documents. FBI agents didn’t allow Trump’s lawyers to watch the search, and a person close to the Trump family suggests the agents placed listening devices while conducting the search.
Although the raid is unprecedented, the Department of Justice may still have a good explanation for it, Stimson said. A judge approved the Mar-a-Lago warrant.
However, it’s shocking that U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland only offered a statement this afternoon, said Stimson.
“I think the A.G. should have gone out yesterday and had a presser,” he said. “And he should have released the affidavit and, of course, redacted anything he couldn’t put out there yet so that the American people would have more confidence that this Justice Department is on the up-and-up when he took this extraordinary action.”
In Garland’s Aug. 11 statement, he announced that the Justice Department has filed a motion to unseal the Mar-a-Lago search warrant and the list of what the FBI took. However, he provided no explanation of the warrant’s purpose.
“Federal law, longstanding department rules, and our ethical obligations prevent me from providing further details as to the basis of the search at this time,” he said.
Garland added that he had personally approved the warrant and that it upheld the rule of law.
“The department does not take such a decision lightly,” he said.
At this point, people have already decided whether they do or don’t trust the government, and the FBI raid will do little to change opinions, Stimson said.
“I think the bias is already built into the electorate,” he said.
Gallup polls show that American trust in government is at an all-time low. Only 7 percent of Americans trust Congress, 23 percent trust the presidency, and 25 percent trust the Supreme Court.
It’s likely that once Republicans control Congress, Garland will be held accountable there, Stimson said. But the news might outrun elections.
“We may know a lot more between now and next January [or] February about not only the substance of what they took or where this leads them, or the politics and how this came about,” he said.
Even so, the FBI’s raid might bother Americans less than more normal election issues like crime and the economy, Stimson added.
“The fact that Washington is dysfunctional or acting in a way that seems sleazy is not a surprise to the American people,” he said. “They’re tuning out because they’re disgusted by it.”