Garland’s transparency on warrant is an unfortunate bow to public pressure
The Aug. 11 editorial, “An unprecedented FBI raid demands unprecedented transparency,” got it wrong. Unfortunately, this sort of pressure from the media may have influenced US Attorney General Merrick Garland’s decision to ask a federal court to unseal the search warrant the FBI received before searching Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence.
What your editorial board got right, however, were the exact reasons that such transparency was a bad idea: You write that Garland is cautious, so there must have been a good reason for having taken the extraordinary action of approving the search warrant. You note that Trump could release it himself if he wanted to. You acknowledge that it would be tough to convince Trump’s followers that the Justice Department was acting appropriately. Enough said.
Releasing the warrant, even if heavily redacted, will not appease the MAGA crowd and should not be necessary for the rest of the world, who can assume Garland is playing fair. Further, it could set up a claim by the Trump team that this “unprecedented” release of the warrant poisons any case against him and any jury that may be empaneled.
Prosecutors shouldn’t comment on charges before they’re brought or release information that could undermine their case or assist the target of an investigation. Bowing to public pressure and releasing the warrant and the reasons for the raid: that’s unprecedented and unwise.
What’s ‘unprecedented’ here? Threat to our system of government.
I object in the strongest terms to the headline of your editorial “An unprecedented FBI raid demands unprecedented transparency.” The issuance of warrants based on probable cause to search and seize evidence of crimes is an entirely routine occurrence. To characterize such an event as unprecedented because it concerns a former president ignores the probable criminality of the target and thereby implicitly ratifies the principle that the United States is properly a nation of men, not laws.
What is fundamentally unprecedented is Trump’s criminality in office, evidence of which has been publicly revealed time and time again. There can hardly be surprise that his properties would shelter even more evidence. As for transparency, Trump himself has as much control over that as does the FBI: Either can release the warrant to the public.
What is distressingly unprecedented is the vitiation of our constitutional system of checks and balances by Republicans in Congress in refusing to hold Trump accountable in timely fashion for his transgressions. This abdication of their sworn duty to support and defend the Constitution will ultimately transform us from a nation of laws to a nation where partisan political might makes right, justice under the law be damned.
Attorney general is wise to clear the air
Re “Nuclear files are reportedly FBI target” (Page A1, Aug. 12): I was glad to see Attorney General Merrick Garland come out and clear the air around the recent search of Donald Trump’s Florida residence, considering all the blather by the former president and his minions about what the search represented.
I was reminded of the release in 2019 of the Mueller report on the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and how that was handled by the attorney general at the time. William Barr came out with his take on the report’s importance (or lack thereof) that set a Trump-friendly tone for its reception three weeks later. Had Barr let the report speak for itself, it might well have produced a remarkably different public reaction. The full Mueller report should have been released immediately after Barr’s nothing-to-see-here preview.
In this case, Garland was wise to get some basic facts out early, while the Trump noise machine was cranking up in usual fashion.
James P. Pehl
Rubio’s back-at-you warning is a false alarm
Re “What happened at Mar-a-Lago is good for democracy” by Abdallah Fayyad (Opinion, Aug. 11): Senator Marco Rubio’s claim about the Mar-a-Lago raid — that “someone else will be in power one day and now you have created the precedent for them to do this back to you” — is disingenuous. Surely the Florida Republican isn’t saying that if the Republicans are in power in 2025, they will investigate the Biden administration without cause?
Is Rubio so partisan that he can’t see that the investigation of Trump is warranted, even if he believes that the former president is innocent?
US government has got to be better at controlling sensitive data
The FBI showed up at the home of former president Donald Trump on Aug. 8 in search of improperly stored US government classified documentation. It is not clear which classified documents the FBI discovered at Mar-a-Lago; however, the search did give Americans a window into the US government’s incredibly incompetent process of controlling sensitive, classified information.
Why would the US president (of any political party) need to maintain the original version or copy of a classified document in his office or private residence? Certainly, the president needs to read and study documentation related to the nation’s security and international affairs; however, once read, and understood, the classified information should be placed in a secure location.
All US government classified documentation should be tightly controlled to prevent access by enemies of the United States. The government should adopt the kind of secure document control procedures we demand from our defense suppliers.
The irony of the Trump document dust-up is: This is a former president who was infamous for not reading the daily security briefings. Now it appears as if he’s taken much of this classified material into retirement with him to Florida — for some catch-up reading, I suppose?