Three burning questions after Trump raid

York Dispatch editorial board
The receipt for property that was seized during the execution of a search warrant by the FBI at former President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Fla., is photographed Friday, Aug. 12, 2022. (AP Photo/Jon Elswick)

There’s a lot to untangle in the aftermath of the FBI’s unprecedented raid last week on former President Donald Trump’s Florida estate, Mar-a-Lago.

Of course, the same could be said of the Trump presidency, in general. From the spur-of-the-moment policy decisions to the revolving door of administration players to the dismissal of traditional foreign allies in favor of despots to the thousands upon thousands of lies he served up, when it came to tangled webs, Trump was the weaver-in-chief.

But the seriousness with which the latest chapter in the never-ending saga of America’s 45th president played out raises a number of grave questions:

Has national security been threatened?

That’s what congressional lawmakers want to know. House Democrats Carolyn Maloney of New York and Adam Schiff of California have sent a letter to the director of National Intelligence seeking a damage assessment based on her reading of the recovered materials.

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They cited the highly classified nature of some of the information among the 20 or so boxes of files collected by the FBI, reportedly including nuclear documents.

“If this report is true, it is hard to overstate the national security danger that could emanate from the reckless decision to remove and retain this material,” they wrote, accurately.

Did Trump betray his country?

Trump’s “love letters” from North Korean leader Kim Jong-un or the Sharpie-defaced map he crafted to prop up his erroneous claim of a hurricane’s course were, perhaps, benign (though still illegal) examples of the materials the president initially took from the White House. The documents retrieved last week were anything but benign. The FBI search warrant revealed Trump is under investigation for violations of the Espionage Act, along with removal or destruction of records and obstruction of justice.

These are serious crimes, all felonies. And they raise serious questions. If it is determined that Trump did indeed remove these items from the White House, the next, obvious, question is why?

The ex-president’s past actions, such as his imperfect phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, establish his cavalier attitude toward abusing government resources for personal gain. What were his motivations in this case?

Will blind loyalty continue to insulate Trump?

If Pennsylvania Rep. Scott Perry is any indication, it sure will. He went on Tucker Carlson’s Fox show last week to claim Trump is being targeted by Democrats warry of his potential 2024 candidacy. Speaking before the espionage probe was public, Perry went so far as to say claims that Trump possessed classified documents were absurd because, “the president is the ultimate classification authority … You know, he’s the classifier.”

More:Rep. Scott Perry of Pennsylvania says the FBI has seized his cellphone

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Another Republican Trump apologist, Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, is calling for the Espionage Act to be repealed, which, whether he realizes it or not, sure makes it look like he thinks Trump is guilty.

Whether they say the FBI planted the documents or Trump is being unfairly targeted or the raid is another “witch hunt,” Trump’s defenders have reverted to fantasy-embracing form. Worse, the so-called law-and-order crowd are disparaging the FBI and Department of Justice in ways that threaten to stoke public displays of violence. They’re playing a very dangerous game in service to a very undeserving party.

Can Trump ever again be trusted to hold public office?

Given the latest charges, coming on the heels of recent disclosures that many circa-Jan. 6 Secret Service texts have been destroyed and amid the case being made by the Jan. 6 committee, this question is the only one for which there is a clear and simple answer:

No.