06:00, August 14, 2022
The week should have started so well. On Monday, Donald Trump was preparing to savor the announced victory of several of the Republican candidates he had sponsored for the primaries in Wisconsin, Minnesota, Vermont and Connecticut for the midterm elections on November 8. Whether they are candidates for the seats of representative in the House, senator, governor or local secretary of state, responsible for overseeing the 2024 presidential election, most ended up winning on Tuesday against their more moderate Republican competitors.
Donald Trump was preparing above all to revel in his greatest trophy, the political death of Liz Cheney, representative of Wyoming in Congress and daughter of the ex-vice-president of George W. Bush, who became his target to be shot down for having accepted to co-chair the parliamentary commission of inquiry into the assault on the Capitol on January 6, 2021. This election, Tuesday, where Liz Cheney leaves with a delay of more than 20 points, would have prompted him, among other arguments, to accelerate his preparations to declare himself in the presidential election of 2024.
An investigation for violation of federal laws
But it was another “breaking news” that tore up the American news this mid-August. In Mar-a-Lago, its 58-room “White House” in Palm Beach (Florida), around thirty FBI agents announced themselves on Monday to search the premises. Donald Trump’s lawyer rushed to the scene, the investigators handed over a warrant signed by a federal judge authorizing them to seize documents previously requested by the National Archives and the Department of Justice, some of which are classified top secret for reasons of national security.
The warrant specifies that the FBI is acting in the context of an investigation for violation of federal laws, one of which governs “the collection, transmission or loss of information under the Espionage Act”. This 1917 text served as the legal basis for the indictment of the Rosenberg spouses, Edward Snowden or Julian Assange. But never in the history of the United States to raid the property of a former president.
Donald Trump may well be indicted
“One of these three laws, the Presidential Records Act, imposes very strict rules for presidents during their term of office and also afterwards, and Donald Trump could well be charged for having violated it”, specifies to the JDD William Galston, a former adviser of Bill Clinton today researcher at the Brookings Institution. Already last year, Donald Trump had to return fifteen boxes taken from the White House and containing personal memories of his time spent in the Oval Office, including a letter from North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.
Read also – Gérard Araud, ex-ambassador of France to the United States: “Donald Trump has always made fun of the procedures”
This time, the FBI left with 26 boxes and several folders containing letters, photos and documents, one of which is titled “The President of France”. It could be an extract from the file that his services were able to prepare for him for his visit to France in 2017 or for the state visit that Emmanuel Macron made to Washington in 2018, according to Gérard Araud, the former ambassador who had prepared this trip. Or anything else. The Élysée has made no comment at this stage.
Until the details of the search warrant and the list of items seized were known on Friday evening, the sphere of supporters of Donald Trump cried foul. His own lawyer present at Mar-a-Lago, Christina Bobb, rose up against a “raid” in total contradiction with “the cooperative attitude” of the former president with justice. “Trump supporters are very suspicious of the activities of the FBI and the Department of Justice and with good reason”, underlines Karlyn Bowman, the great expert in opinion polls at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank in Washington. An allusion to Hillary Clinton’s run-ins with the FBI during the 2016 presidential campaign for storing her State Department emails on her home computer.
For his supporters, the case is proof that power is “corrupt”, and they will defend Trump even more vigorously
“If we are rational, we say to ourselves that this affair is catastrophic for Trump, that he can no longer run for the next presidential election, comments Soufian Alsabbagh, author of The American New Right (Demopolis 2012) and professor at Baruch College in New York. But if we take into account the emotional dimension of the case for its supporters, it is proof for them that power is “corrupted”, that justice is “politicized”, and they will defend it even more vigorously. » Trump soon to be a candidate while the victim campaign is in full swing? These developments, twelve short weeks from November 8, are scrutinized very closely by the White House.