Excuses abound, but Trump and his backers can't seem to acknowledge the truth

St. Louis Post-Dispatch editorial board (TNS)
In this photo illustration, pages are viewed from the government’s released version of the FBI search warrant affidavit for former President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate on Aug. 27, 2022, in California. The 32-page affidavit was heavily redacted for the protection of witnesses and law enforcement and to ensure the "integrity of the ongoing investigation." (Photo Illustration by Mario Tama/Getty Images/TNS)

The list of flimsy excuses and desperate explanations keeps growing for Donald Trump’s unlawful possession of highly classified documents at his Mar-a-Lago compound. Members of Congress and other Republican influentials keep falling all over themselves either to minimize the importance of the documents, blame the FBI for a witch hunt against Trump, or even to suggest that it was the FBI’s delays in searching Mar-a-Lago — not Trump’s possession of secret documents there — that endangered national security.

But the one culprit who never seems to come up for blame in their accounting is Trump himself.

For members of Congress, the more they appear to be defending one man’s lawlessness and impunity, the more they betray their sworn duty to defend the Constitution and the law of the land.

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The most recent round of excuse-making comes courtesy of Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, who wondered aloud in a television interview why all the commotion over a simple “storage argument.”

He added: “I don’t think a fight over storage of documents is worthy of what they’ve done, which is (a) full-scale raid and then these constant leaks.”

Rubio falsely asserted that Justice Department officials “don’t deny that he should have access to those documents.” They do, in fact, insist he had no business possessing them. One document in particular reportedly contained intelligence about other countries’ nuclear defense capabilities.

Trump himself has offered differing and often contradictory accounts of why he possessed government documents in violation of federal law. He asserted that there was no need for an FBI “raid” because he had cooperated in Justice Department efforts to recover the documents. That is false. His refusal to cooperate and apparent efforts to hide some documents were what prompted first a federal subpoena, then a search warrant approved by a federal judge.

Trump falsely asserted that he had declassified the documents, as if to minimize the security risks. He had not, and even if he did, he still had no legal right to possess them.

Rep. Mike Turner, R-Ohio, minimized the issue as little more than failing to return an overdue library book. Wrong. Trump didn’t check anything out. He took government property then tried to hide it.

Then there’s the time-honored finger-pointing fallback position: What about Hillary? She did, in fact, divert government emails to her private server — an action this newspaper labeled “stupid” because it was. And she paid a heavy price for it: the loss of the presidency in 2016. But unlike Trump, she didn’t attempt to hide her mistake. She apologized and made no excuses.

It almost seems beyond the capability of Trump and his supporters to admit wrongdoing and offer a simple apology. It’s the refusal to abide by the law and to be held accountable to it that distinguishes Trump as the most dangerous threat to democracy this nation has faced since the Civil War.

— From the St. Louis Post-Dispatch editorial board (TNS).