At this point in the long and horrific story of Donald Trump’s career in politics, it’s difficult to be surprised by anything anymore. That said, when the FBI conducted an authorized search of Trump’s lavishly tacky Mar-a-Lago home — a place that, based on the photos we’ve seen, looks slightly less classy than Michael Jackson’s Neverland Ranch — we nearly dropped our tea.
There’s a reason that the former president has the nickname “Teflon Don.” The man has earned himself a reputation for consistently and persistently dodging accountability, which started long before he entered the political arena. Over the course of his presidency, and the preceding year or so when he was running, we saw him say the most heinous things, DO the most horrendous things, and suffer no consequences. When he mocked journalist Serge F. Kovaleski’s disability, that should have been the end, not only of his political career but of his career as any sort of public figure. But no, the excuses for his bullying poured in. “He always does that face and hand motion, no matter who he’s talking to.”
When he was caught on tape talking about grabbing pussies, that should have ended it. But no, that was “locker room talk.” And that’s how we ended up with a man in command who could and did instigate an attempted coup. He smiled while his supporters chanted “Hang Mike Pence.” To this day he’s undermining the legitimacy of a free and fair election and, make no mistake, if he runs again (and it looks like he’s going to announce that soon), then he’ll do it again. No way would this half-man ever concede defeat because he sees humility as a sign of weakness. My god, he’s wretched.
L: Mar-a-Lago (photo: Christine Davis) // R: Attorney General Merrick Garland
So here we are, waiting to see what the January 6 Committee’s hearings have in store for us in September, and waiting to see if there will be any real consequences for the horrors that have very clearly been laid before us. Will Attorney General Merrick Garland act on those crimes? It would appear that moves are being made in that direction but the aforementioned “Teflon Don” reputation leaves us wondering if Trump really is above the law.
However, this week’s events at Mar-a-Lago raise the stakes somewhat. In the immediate aftermath of the search, Republicans were crying about a “politicization” or “weaponization” of law enforcement — that Garland and the FBI were out of control, that it was an unnecessary and unlawful act.
“What,” right-wing news hosts asked, “could possibly be in a document that warrants such an invasion? Nuclear weapons details?”
As it turned out, yes. That’s one of the things the Feds suspected was in a box in Trump’s home office.
“What about Hillary and her emails? Hunter Biden?” they asked, clearly forgetting the hours of scrutiny Clinton was subjected to and came out clean. Also forgetting that Hunter Biden isn’t and has never been president, or running for president, or in any position of authority at all.
When Garland had his mic-drop moment and asked a judge to release the search warrant and receipt of items seized, and when we all saw Trump had taken documents classified as the toppest of secrets home with him, any republican protests became moot. Unfortunately not mute but certainly moot.
Trump’s claims that he declassified the files with a wave of his tiny hands have been disproved as nonsense by every talking head on TV who knows how these things work. There are processes and incoming presidents are left in no doubt about how these things work. You can’t just say, “I’m president, they’re declassified now.” He knew exactly what he was doing and when he was subpoenaed to produce the missing documents and he didn’t comply, he knew exactly what he was doing then too.
Will there be repercussions this time? He’s essentially guilty of espionage and that word should be exactly as heavy as it sounds. How the fuck does Teflon Don extinguish espionage flames? In any just system, he shouldn’t be able to.
Put that alongside the ongoing January 6 investigations (both from the Committee and the Department of Justice), and his also-ongoing legal wrangles regarding his tax filings, and he should be bogged down by his sins for years and years. The espionage tag alone should disqualify him from running for any office, never mind the highest office in the country. I wouldn’t want him on my kid’s school board.
We’ll have to wait and see. Garland, with all of his calm demeanor, has given us hope. Some mistake his insistence on making sure every detail is correct before acting for inactivity. Garland simply knows that, to get someone like Trump, all of the ducks have to be in a neat row. And Trump’s ducks take some herding.
L: Stephen Colbert (photo: David Shankbone) // R: Ice-T (photo: S Bollmann)
We scoured the socials of musicians and the usual suspects were surprisingly quiet. No comment from Billie Eilish or Tom Morello, for example. Ice-T posted a simple, “Fed’s Raided Mar-A-Lago. Oh shit…. Shit’s poppin off.” Which is exactly the comment we would want from Ice-T (and explains the title of this installment of the column).
Of course, topical comedian Stephen Colbert had a ball discussing the events on his show. “It may be hot outside, but in here, it’s Christmas. Because yesterday, we all got the present we wanted: FBI agents raided Mar-a-Lago,” said Colbert. “That is the most beautiful sentence America has ever produced. It’s right up there with ‘We put cheese inside the crust.’”
That’s all great, of course. But we should also remember that the far right is gearing up for violence. The FBI agents who conducted the raid, the judge who authorized it, Garland himself, all are facing death threats and if the recent assault of Salman Rushdie proves anything, it’s that we have to take these threats seriously.
That’s why there have to be genuine and very serious legal repercussions here. Trump is a criminal — it’s about time he was treated like one.