Friday, March 24, 2023

While we thank the Teaneck Republican Municipal Committee (TRMC) for reminding everyone that Donald Trump’s flagrant disregard for laws and norms remains an issue to be reckoned with, we must admit that the TRMC’s letter in these pages left us scratching our heads (“Teaneck Republican Committee Letter Regarding FBI Raid on President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Home,” September 8, 2022). Normally, we would welcome our Republican friends letting the investigative process play out and refraining from jumping to conclusions while facts are unknown. This would be a refreshing development after years of listening to “lock her up” chants.

Here, however, without prejudging anyone’s guilt, enough facts are known to call into question the framing in the TRMC’s letter. For example, what the TRMC terms a “break-in” and a “raid” was, in fact, a lawful search conducted pursuant to a warrant approved by a federal judge upon a showing of probable cause. And this search came after the National Archives and Records Administration negotiated for a year with Mr. Trump to return the documents he took to an unauthorized location; the Justice Department issued a subpoena for additional records; and a lawyer for Mr. Trump falsely certified that no documents with classification markings remained at Mar-a-Lago. Reading the TRMC’s condemnation of the FBI and DOJ in this context, one is left with the impression that the “party of law and order” doesn’t much care for law and order when the investigation involves Donald Trump.

Meanwhile, the public learns more every day—often from Mr. Trump’s own admissions and his attorneys’ statements—about the classified material Trump took to Mar-a-Lago, and the insecure manner in which he stored those documents. Given Mr. Trump’s history of dealing recklessly with sensitive material, it should surprise no one that a judge found reasonable cause to search his property. Remember, this is the man who burned a deeply embedded Israeli spy by revealing highly classified information to his Russian guests in the Oval Office.

As John Bolton, Trump’s national security adviser, explained, the discovery at Mar-a-Lago of things like newspaper clippings in the same boxes as documents marked “classified” displays Trump’s “disdain” for the seriousness of classification issues. And Trump’s Attorney General Bill Barr defended the Justice Department’s actions: “It’s also unprecedented for a president to take all this classified information and put them in a country club…. The facts are starting to show that [government officials] were being jerked around. And so, how long do they wait?”

Given this background, it’s surprising that the TRMC condemns as “egregious” the FBI’s search of Mar-a-Lago. Does the TRMC believe that Mr. Trump is above the law? The TRMC mentions using “peaceful” means; we concur. Is the TRMC suggesting the FBI acted in any manner other than peaceful? Finally, we wonder what “means” the TRMC will employ to generate an “outpouring of overwhelming electoral support for [their] town … candidates on November 8,” given that Teaneck holds only nonpartisan elections.

Teaneck Democratic Municipal Committee
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