WASHINGTON DC – On Monday the FBI searched the Mar-a-Lago home of the former US president Donald Trump.
Republican elected officials responded with fury. The Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee warned the American public on Twitter to imagine what the FBI could do to average citizens if this is what it can do to a former president. Kevin McCarthy, the house minority leader, told Merrick Garland, the attorney general, that if Republicans take back control of the House of Representatives – which they hope to do at the midterm elections in November – “we will conduct immediate oversight” of the Department of Justice.
Senator Ted Cruz demanded that Garland release the search warrant (on Thursday Garland shared that he was indeed requesting that the warrant be unsealed) and also alleged that the FBI has become an “attack dog”. Ron DeSantis, the governor of Florida who is widely expected to run for president in 2024, called the search “another escalation in the weaponisation of federal agencies against the regime’s political opponents”.
Here is the problem: on Thursday night the Washington Post reported that part of what the FBI was searching for included documents related to nuclear weapons. We do not know what these documents are, so unlike other major elected officials from the Republican Party, I am not going to make assumptions or speculate on what was or was not there, or what the FBI did or did not find.
[See also: Nixon’s Watergate in the age of Donald Trump]
What we do know, however, is that during his political career Trump has repeatedly made statements that were not true. Republicans could have said that the FBI searching a former president’s residence was no small event, and that they would closely watch the rest of this investigation. Instead, members of the Republican Party criticised the FBI and diminished the search as a political attack.
The former president has a long history of demanding loyalty from people and then discarding them; he reportedly said that his vice-president, Mike Pence – who would not stop the certification of the 2020 presidential election – “deserved” chants from an angry mob demanding he be hanged.
Trump uses people. He lies to people. He puts his own interests above others, including those in his own political party. It is not that I expect more from the people who ran for their lives on 6 January and then voted against convicting the person who had encouraged the mob. It is just that I am still, even now, struck by the willingness of Republicans to tie themselves to a man who has shown repeatedly that he can always go lower, and that he does not care how far they fall as they come down with him.[See also: The FBI raid on Mar-a-Lago was rule of law in action]