The Justice Department on Friday released a redacted version of the affidavit that led to the FBI’s search of Mar-a-Lago earlier this month. Trump’s team had been clamoring for the affidavit’s release, presumably believing it would reveal that the warrant was illegitimate.
This was … not the case.
The filing instead laid out the key particulars of the investigation into the former president, noting that authorities had reason to believe he was hoarding “fruits of crime” and other illegally stored government materials in his South Florida estate. It went on to detail that “184 unique documents bearing classification markings, including 67 documents marked as CONFIDENTIAL, 92 documents marked as SECRET, and 25 documents marked as TOP SECRET” were retrieved from Mar-a-Lago. Some of the classified documents included markings indicating they contained information related to the nation’s human intelligence assets.
It was a tough one to spin for Trump’s water carriers across the conservative ecosphere, but they did their damndest to spin it, anyway. Here are some of the most feeble talking points they’ve been pushing since the affidavit dropped just after noon.
The affidavit is cancel culture
Peter Navarro, the former Trump adviser and proud accomplice in the effort to overturn the results of the 2020 election, went on Newsmax to bash the FBI and attempt to tie the affidavit’s redactions to the culture war. “Redacted means canceled,” said Navarro, who was arrested in June on contempt of Congress charges for failing to honor a subpoena from the Jan. 6 committee. “OK, so they canceled the affidavit. That’s the most beautiful I’ve ever seen there. That’s like the FBI in your face.”
The FBI should go ahead and release all of the classified secrets to the public
With all due respect to Peter “Cancel Culture” Navarro, the most absurd take of the afternoon came from John Yoo, a former deputy assistant attorney general who went on Fox News to argue that the Justice Department now needs to declassify all of the sensitive material it retrieved from Mar-a-Lago and release it to the public.
“Why not declassify the documents they actually took from President Trump and show the public what they were?” he wondered after saying the DOJ should drop the investigation. “If the government really feels that this was a national security threat for President Trump to have them, then let’s see them in a sanitized form.”
It’s now been well-reported that the material seized from Mar-a-Lago contained some of the government’s most sensitive secrets, some of which pertained to national security, as well as information related to human intelligence assets. It’s probably not in the nation’s best interest for all of this stuff to be made public, which is precisely why the Justice Department is so concerned that Trump was storing it in boxes at his golf club.
So much for transparency
Several commentators have keyed in on the fact that the affidavit is heavily redacted, featuring several pages that are almost entirely blacked out. “So much for transparency,” Rep. Dan Bishop (R-N.C.) tweeted along with images of such pages. “Well this really clears things up,” Donald Trump Jr. wrote along with similar images.”
There are, of course, very good reasons why the Justice Department needs to redact certain details of an ongoing investigation, which Judge Bruce Reinhart deemed sufficient on Thursday before ordering the release of the affidavit. One such reason is that, according to the DOJ, the affidavit contained the names of “a significant number of civilian witnesses” who would have been compromised if not for all of those black bars.
What about the surveillance footage?
Trumpworld demanded the release of the search warrant after the raid. When the search warrant was released, revealing Trump is under investigation for potentially violating the Espionage Act, Trumpworld demanded the release of the affidavit that led to the search warrant. Now that that has been released, revealing the sensitive nature of the documents Trump was hoarding, some are demanding the release of the surveillance footage of the raid, which Trump has reportedly been considering making public.
Relax, it’s only paper
Mick Mulvaney, Trump’s former chief of staff who is now cashing checks from CBS News, argued that the raid was somehow “outrageous” because it was “just about documents.”
It’s true that the raid was “just about documents.” It’s a little more difficult to accept that this makes it “outrageous,” however, considering the documents contained some of the government’s most sensitive secrets.
Why did the FBI wait so long to raid Mar-a-Lago?
Conservatives after the raid were aghast the Department of Justice would dare execute a search warrant at the home of a former president. Now, they’re wondering why the raid wasn’t conducted sooner. “Why didn’t they, when they found the documents in the 15 boxes in January, move quicker to go after these highly, highly sensitive documents they believed were still on the premises?” Bret Baier of Fox News wondered
What about Hillary?
Chris Swecker, a former assistant FBI director, went on Fox News to explain that yes, the records are sensitive, and yes, they were stored in an insecure location — but it’s really not that big of a deal. Why?
“It reminds me of Hillary Clinton…” he continued.
Of course it does.