The FBI visit to Mar-a-Lago brings Donald Trump legal peril but also potential political gain.
For authorities to carry out such an unprecedented act on a former US president’s home, they must have been hunting evidence of a significant breach of law, experts seem to agree.
They must also have believed he would not willingly hand over such evidence since they had to seek a warrant from a judge to carry out the search.
The ex-president must have something serious to hide, is one conclusion, something that could land him in deep legal trouble.
Donald Trump is at the centre of several investigations – all of them threatening potentially serious legal jeopardy.
But there are no signs that any of them are anywhere close to bringing charges.
Politically, though, the implications are immediate and potentially in Trump’s favour.
His appeal as a populist is as an “anti-politician”. He thrives as a disrupter railing against the Washington establishment whose elites are despised by millions.
They blame them for multiple failings: the war in Iraq, the 2008 financial crash, the impact of globalisation, the loss of jobs, the end of the American dream in communities across the country, the lethal opioid crisis, and so on.
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Trump supporters gather while FBI hunt for files
Trump’s supporters also hold the FBI in contempt and suspicion. They see its agents as the long arm of those Washington elites and in league with the Democratic Party.
The spectacle of federal agents descending on Trump’s Florida home is part of the script he and his cohorts have prepared supporters for. Once again he is the victim, they say, of a bent criminal justice system and its political patrons.
As soon as it happened his acolytes condemned the alleged weaponisation of the justice department. A fresh fundraising drive was launched off the back of the news.
If the move brings with it potential political gain, it begs the question that did Donald Trump try to make it happen?
Could he have refused to hand over documents in the hope it would lure the FBI to act as it has, taking the bait?
It is not out of the question – even if that is an extraordinary state of affairs for a former US president.
Read more:Why the FBI has raided Donald Trump’s estate – and what it is investigating
Millions of Americans will of course be horrified by yet another act tarnishing the highest office in the land.
Even if the suspicions over the raid prove unfounded, this event will confirm for many their contempt for Donald Trump and what he has done to the office of the presidency.
The last election showed a majority of Americans were tired of his shenanigans. Recent polls suggest even half of Republicans want anyone else but him to stand as their candidate in 2024.
But Joe Biden’s popularity is woefully low. Inflation and economic downturns loom and once again America is spending billions supporting a war in faraway lands.
If Trump is planning a comeback, the Mar-a-Lago raid might persuade him the time is right to announce his candidacy.
He would be raising the stakes and upping the ante. The sooner the better might be his legal advice too. To investigate and potentially indict a former president is complicated enough for the justice department, but to do the same with a current presidential candidate will be even more challenging.
Source : Sky News