American Opinion: Trump’s defenders look worse with each new leak about the documents. – Central West Grandstand

After the FBI searched for classified documents at former President Donald Trump’s Florida home, his chorus of sycophants continued to sing the same tune: The search was unnecessary. The government should have simply asked him to return the documents. Trump had declassified them anyway. But new court filings devastate each of those arguments. The public should insist that those who castigated law enforcement in their rush to defend Trump before the facts were out explain where they stand now.

American Opinion

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Immediately after Trump announced on August 8 that his Mar-a-Lago resort was “besieged, raided and occupied” by the FBI, the usual suspects came to his defense. Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt, a US Senate candidate, has vowed to “take a wrecking ball” at the Justice Department. Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., insisted that, “at a minimum,” Attorney General Merrick Garland “must resign or be removed.”

These and other Republican responses were triggered before there was virtually no information available about court-approved peaceful research (not “raid” or “siege”). Their rhetoric may well have contributed to a wave of death threats against FBI officials. So much for the “law and order” party.

The timeline that has since emerged via court filings has increasingly justified the FBI’s search. The fact that Trump took hundreds of classified documents with him when he left office — some with classifications indicating they could endanger national security if they fell into the wrong hands — is now indisputable. Far from overreacting, federal officials spent nearly two years demanding, negotiating and even subpoenaing Trump to retrieve the records, ultimately resorting to a court-ordered search as a last resort. The Trump narrative they could have just asked for is almost comical in hindsight.

Trump’s unsubstantiated claim that he declassified the records before taking them is one his lawyers never made during the entire negotiation, exposing it as an afterthought ploy. And documents filed last week indicate that Trump’s attorneys may have moved documents to prevent federal officials from finding them, bolstering the obstruction of justice case.

Trump himself may have inadvertently provided evidence of such obstruction, complaining last week on social media that the FBI “randomly threw documents all over the floor (perhaps claiming that It’s me who did it !)”. Spreading out documents for photographing is a standard evidentiary procedure. But more specifically, Trump did not deny that the documents were in his home, saying only that they were not on the floor. Yet his lawyers had previously denied there were still any documents anywhere at the scene.

The fact that several Republican candidates have recently cleared their social media of posts defending Trump indicates that at least some party members have reconsidered their instinctive defense of a president who has repeatedly demonstrated his contempt for the rule of law. The others should be asked, at every opportunity, if they agree.

This American Opinion editorial is the view of the editorial board of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Send your comments to: [email protected].

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