WaPo: “clashes in a tense tug of war between two arms of the Justice Department over how aggressively to pursue a criminal investigation of a former president….”
I’m so old, I remember when leaks to The Washington Post and other NeverTrump media about the Mar-a-Lago raid (but don’t call it a “raid”) were all negative to Donald Trump – nuclear secrets blah blah blah, no choice but to send 20+ FBI agents because of the risk of the documents falling into foreign hands, etc.
Oh, how times have changed. Now that it turns out Joe Biden had classified documents dating back to his Senate days in multiple locations, and FBI searches were arranged without a show of force, and even Mike Pence got caught Sandy-Bergering stuff, well, now maybe that raid was a tad unnecessary. That’s the gist of a leak to WaPo, Showdown before the raid: FBI agents and prosecutors argued over Trump. Notice, WaPo used the R word (raid):
Months of disputes between Justice Department prosecutors and FBI agents over how best to try to recover classified documents from Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club and residence led to a tense showdown near the end of July last year, according to four people familiar with the discussions.
Prosecutors argued that new evidence suggested Trump was knowingly concealing secret documents at his Palm Beach, Fla., home and urged the FBI to conduct a surprise raid at the property. But two senior FBI officials who would be in charge of leading the search resisted the plan as too combative and proposed instead to seek Trump’s permission to search his property, according to the four people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe a sensitive investigation.
Prosecutors ultimately prevailed in that dispute, one of several previously unreported clashes in a tense tug of war between two arms of the Justice Department over how aggressively to pursue a criminal investigation of a former president….
On one side, federal prosecutors in the department’s national security division advocated aggressive ways to secure some of the country’s most closely guarded secrets, which they feared Trump was intentionally hiding at Mar-a-Lago; on the other, FBI agents in the Washington field office urged more caution with such a high-profile matter, recommending they take a cooperative rather than confrontational approach….
Prosecutors countered that the FBI failing to treat Trump as it had other government employees who were not truthful about classified records could threaten the nation’s security. As evidence surfaced suggesting that Trump or his team was holding back sensitive records, the prosecutors pushed for quick action to recover them, according to the people familiar with the discussions.
Jonathan Turley notes:
A number of us expressed surprise later that presidential records were such a focus of a criminal indictment. Presidential record disputes are ordinarily administrative or civil matters. It turns out that the FBI itself shared that unease.
While it took long negotiations, the Trump team had previously turned over boxes of material to the National Archives. In January of that year, they returned 15 boxes of government records, including 184 classified documents consisting of 700 pages. The Trump team had also agreed to give the FBI access to the storage room and complied with directions on adding security to the room.
When classified documents were found by both Biden and Pence after the Trump raid, they were also not subject to search warrants but allowed to have counsel look for additional classified material. In all three cases, the FBI seemed to approach the controversies as collection rather than criminal efforts.
However, Bratt and the other main Justice officials were unwilling to seek a consensual raid and maintained that the Trump team might move to hide or destroy evidence. Such actions would, of course, constitute serious federal crimes.
The fact is that highly classified documents were found at Mar-a-Lago and past representations made by counsel were later challenged by the FBI as false. The Justice Department told the court that it believes that there was an effort to obstruct their investigation.
What is striking about the report is the preference, yet again, for the Justice Department to take the DEFCON 1 option over other alternatives in a matter involving Trump.
Now there are special counsel involved, and the media has kinda sorta moved on from what at the time was declared the crime of the century.
"Just as we're this close to getting [Trump], somehow these documents appear." – Joy Behar
The View suggests Republicans PLANTED the confidential documents in Biden's garage and think tank!
"Does it feel like the Republicans are behind it?" – Sunny Hostin pic.twitter.com/40tED0Yy6p
— Nicholas Fondacaro (@NickFondacaro) January 12, 2023
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