Most days since the FBI descended on Mar-a-Lago have felt remarkably familiar.
Former President Donald Trump headlines every top story; armchair legal experts on cable news regurgitate theories without enough information; absurd speculation about “treason” dominates the Twitter bubble; and it feels like former Special Counsel Robert Mueller may soon emerge from the dustbins of history.
That familiarity may be irksome but also gives us some perspective. It aids our understanding of why the notorious Russia investigation spectacularly failed to deliver what its proponents desired and made honest Americans leery of further investigations into any alleged misconduct.
Russiagate was based on the implausible idea that Trump was an agent of Russian strongman Vladimir Putin; that there was a covert alliance between Trump’s core team and Russian intelligence; and the Trump campaign shrewdly collaborated with Russia to hack and then distribute important Democratic National Committee emails.
The haphazard investigation proved none of these scenarios, nor did the failed impeachment early in 2020, just as coronavirus simultaneously reached America.
While Mueller’s report did not fully exonerate the president from all wrongdoing, the inquiry made many errors, including how the government obtained warrants. A troubling link between FBI overreach and left-wing commentators exaggerating the bogus Steele dossier’s fantastical claims also was evident.
When the investigation concluded, both federal officials and legacy media clearly had erred in search of some fairytale Watergate ending. And it understandably confirmed Trump supporters’ belief that whatever shortcomings the president had, the “deep state” is worse and cannot be trusted.
Fast forward a few years, and with a new administration in Washington, midterm elections 11 weeks away, Attorney General Merrick Garland’s choices matter just as much as the decisions of Mueller and disgraced former FBI Director James Comey.
We should hope Garland, a judge for nearly a quarter-century, had the Russiagate lesson in mind when he signed off on the Aug. 8 Mar-a-Lago raid. He might also consider how Mueller’s investigation tarnished his legacy. As Garland ponders his next move, partisan hyperbole and the influence of academic hacks should be discarded.
I don’t believe that Trump, nor any former commander-in-chief, deserves immediate exoneration solely because they are ex-presidents, or because we fear a lone-wolf attack on the FBI.
However, when federal agents — representing a rival administration that may face off in the 2024 election — invade a private residence, they better have the goods or some credible rationale when coming after Trump. We’ve yet to see that.
If Trump took classified documents for nuclear weapons and showed them to rogue Middle East nations, that’s problematic; if the 45th president innocently took foreign leaders’ letters because he collects souvenirs, go ahead and retrieve them for placement in a museum, and end the shenanigans.
But please, Mr. Garland, do not force the nation into a Groundhog Day that becomes banal and insignificant.
The country definitely has more important matters to focus upon.
A.J. Kaufman is an Alpha News columnist. His work has appeared in the Baltimore Sun, Florida Sun-Sentinel, Indianapolis Star, Israel National News, Orange County Register, St. Cloud Times, Star-Tribune, and across AIM Media Midwest and the Internet. Kaufman previously worked as a school teacher and military historian.