Wineke: It’s not about Trump; it’s about you?
MADISON, Wis. — The semi-official Republican response to the FBI search of former President Donald Trump’s Florida property on Monday seems to be that if the government can do that to Trump, what’s to keep the government from doing that to you?
It is, of course, the wrong question and it gets things backward. We already know the government can do that to us.
If the FBI – or any number of other law enforcement agencies – should come across evidence that I have broken a law and that proof of such transgression is likely hidden in my home, then the law will be allowed to search my home.
It will most likely first have to convince a judge to authorize the search warrant, mostly by providing that judge evidence that I have transgressed, and there will be limits on what it can confiscate from me.
But, yes, the FBI can search my home. It can search yours, too. We already know that.
What we didn’t know is that the FBI could search the home of a former United States president. In theory, no person is above the law, but that’s only a theory.
And, if you look at the outrage displayed by Republicans ranging from Trump himself to Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, it seems that the theory is not held universally.
Their implicit argument is that the president is, indeed, above the law.
None of us know why the FBI conducted that search. I don’t. You don’t. Pompeo doesn’t. DeSantis doesn’t. Ron Johnson doesn’t and McCarthy doesn’t.
Since they don’t know why the search was conducted, then their outrage must be based on the idea that a former president’s home may not be searched, even if investigators have evidence of a crime.
My own guess is that they’re not really concerned about the principle of searching a former president’s house – had the FBI searched Bill Clinton’s house I doubt that McCarthy would throw such a fit. They just think Trump is above the law.
Or, perhaps, they fear Trump is guilty and they don’t want him prosecuted.
The reason I suggest that is that many of the Trump defenders are now hinting that the FBI might actually have “planted” material in the Trump residence that will prove damning to the Donald.
At any rate, we are supposed to accept that Donald Trump is above the law and that anyone who questions that – the FBI, the Justice Department, or the judge who issued the search warrant – had better watch out.
The question isn’t whether you and I are above the law. We know we aren’t. The question is whether Donald Trump is above the law and, if so, why.
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