I was going to write a post yesterday about the FBI raid on Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate, but it does not look as bad as the media hype made it seem yesterday.
From the NYTs: F.B.I. Searches Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Residence in Florida (Obligatory archive.ph link)
The search, according to multiple people familiar with the investigation, appeared to be focused on material that Mr. Trump had brought with him to Mar-a-Lago, his private club and residence, when he left the White House. Those boxes contained many pages of classified documents, according to a person familiar with their contents.
Mr. Trump delayed returning 15 boxes of material requested by officials with the National Archives for many months, only doing so when there became a threat of action to retrieve them. The case was referred to the Justice Department by the archives early this year.
This is not the first time this has happened:
In the spring, a small coterie of federal agents visited Mar-a-Lago in search of some documents, according to a person familiar with the meeting. At least one of the agents was involved in counterintelligence, according to the person.
So it has nothing to do with Jan 6th, which was on everyone’s mind when this broke. For whatever reason, Trump retained documents that he was not supposed to have, and the feds went to retrieve them. That’s all.
Although some of the documents are classified, this does not mean they all pertain to matters of national security or are top secret. This seems more like a procedural error on Trump’s part, in which he failed to return certain documents, some which may be of interest to national security, than willful malice.
Trump risks prosecution, but I don’t think anything will happen, but obviously it would imperil any opportunity to run in 2024. It’s also possible that the documents in the safe may implicate someone else, not specifically Trump, assuming that there is evidence of illegal activity.
Samuel R. Berger, a national security adviser to President Bill Clinton, pleaded guilty in 2015 to a misdemeanor charge for removing classified material from a government archive. In 2007, Donald Keyser, an Asia expert and former senior State Department official, was sentenced to prison after he confessed to keeping more than 3,000 sensitive documents — ranging from the classified to the top secret — in his basement.
It’s not like it’s in the NYTs ideological interests to want to downplay the significance of this or any possible link to Jan 6th.
One can also argue that this is politically motivated in order to prevent Trump from running in 2024, although from a strategic standpoint I don’t see how this helps the democrats. This will only embolden voters in support of Trump and whoever the eventual 2024 Republican nominee is. Biden’s approval ratings are so low that he stands to lose no matter who his opponent is, not just if it’s Trump. This raid only feeds into the witch-hunt narrative, which hurts the left.
This also ties into my earlier post about predicting, and how predicting matters pertaining to economics and finance is way easier than politics and geopolitical events. No one saw this raid coming, which is partly why it was such a big story. Everyone initially thought it had to do with Jan 6th, and then it didn’t, so wrong twice. This is also why I have never bothered to try prediction markets, because no one has any edge unless you’re an insider (such as FBI agents placing bets before raiding Trump); otherwise it’s a coin flip. And today Bitcoin fell below 23k again after hitting 24k yesterday. Which do you think was more obvious or easier to predict…the FBI raid or Bitcoin falling?