Patterico's Pontifications

8/11/2022

Unsubstantiated Claims of Evidence Planting at Mar-a-Lago Abound

Filed under: General — Dana @ 1:07 pm



[guest post by Dana]

After the FBI search at Mar-a-Lago, Donald Trump’s lawyer suggested that the FBI may have planted evidence during the search at the residence:

[O]ne of Trump’s lawyers, Alina Habba, told Fox News she was “concerned” that FBI agents “may have planted something” during their search.

“You know, at this point, who knows? I don’t trust the government, and that’s a very frightening thing as an American,” Habba said.

Donald Trump also suggested that evidence planting may have taken place:

“The FBI and others from the Federal Government would not let anyone, including my lawyers, be anywhere near the areas that were rummaged and otherwise looked at during the raid on Mar-a-Lago,” Trump wrote on Truth Social. “Everyone was asked to leave the premises, they wanted to be left alone, without any witnesses to see what they were doing, taking or, hopefully not, ‘planting.'”

Trump-supporting media then told viewers that it was likely the FBI had planted evidence during the search:

…Fox News’ Jesse Watters said in his Tuesday opening monologue: “What the FBI is probably doing is planting evidence, which is what they did during the Russia hoax.

“We also have a hunch they doctored evidence to get the warrant—again, what they did during the Russia hoax.”

[…]

Steve Bannon, a former Trump White House adviser, said Tuesday he “wouldn’t put it past” the federal government to try to frame the former president.

“The FBI and the DOJ are essentially lawless criminal organizations,” Bannon told conspiracy theorist Alex Jones on the latter’s InfoWars show on Tuesday.

MAGA lawmakers jumped on the evidence planting bandwagon as well, and attacked the FBI:

Kentucky Senator Rand Paul also echoed the claim while speaking to Fox and Friends on Wednesday.

“Do I know that the boxes of material they took from Mar-a-Lago, that they won’t put things into those boxes to entrap him?” Paul said. “How do we know? The lawyers weren’t allowed to see the boxes.

“How do we know they’re going to be honest with us about what’s actually in the boxes? How do we know that was in the box before it left the residence if the lawyers weren’t allowed to see everything?”

Meanwhile, FBI director Christopher Wray denounced the increasing threats being made by Trump’s followers on social media:

Christopher Wray, who was appointed as the agency’s director in 2017 by Trump, called threats circulating online against federal agents and the Justice Department “deplorable and dangerous.”

“I’m always concerned about threats to law enforcement,” Wray said. “Violence against law enforcement is not the answer, no matter who you’re upset with.”

The report published a few examples of what Wray is concerned with:

It has been easy to find the threats and a call to arms in those corners of the internet favored by right-wing extremists since Trump himself announced the search of his Florida home. Reactions included the ubiquitous “Lock and load” and calls for federal agents and even U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland to be assassinated.

On Gab — a social media site popular with white supremacists and antisemites — one poster going by the name of Stephen said he was awaiting “the call” to mount an armed revolution.

“All it takes is one call. And millions will arm up and take back this country. It will be over in less than 2 weeks,” the post said.

Another Gab poster implored others: “Lets get this started! This unelected, illegitimate regime crossed the line with their GESTAPO raid! It is long past time the lib socialist filth were cleansed from American society!”

This morning, an armed individual tried to breach an FBI office in Cincinnati:

On August 11, 2022, at approximately 9:15 EST, the FBI Cincinnati Field Office had an armed subject attempt to breach the Visitor Screening Facility (VSF). Upon the activation of an alarm and a response by armed FBI special agents, the subject fled northbound onto Interstate 71. The FBI, Ohio State Highway Patrol, and local law enforcement partners are on scene near Wilmington, Ohio, trying to resolve this critical incident.

This is the latest update I could find:

While the events of this morning in Cincinnatti may or may not end up related to the search at Mar-a-Lago and we likely won’t know for some time yet, it wouldn’t be surprising if that (or possibly some other Trump-related event, like Jan. 6) was what motivated the suspect. We have already seen that there are any number of MAGA reactionaries throughout the country that are willing to demonstrate their loyalty to Trump, no matter the cost. In the meantime, an unsubstaniated suggestion was made by Trump’s lawyer, which he also pushed, and in doing so, he stoked the outrage machine. He positioned himself as the victim of a powerful entity that was conspiring against him and signaling the play to his followers. And like clockwork, his people (private citizens and MAGA media and MAGA lawmakers) followed his lead. They are more than willing to spread an unsubstantiated rumor and use it as a rallying cry to unify before the midterms and before a possible campaign announcement for 2024. Now everyone that lives in MAGA World knows who today’s enemy is.

This all feels familiar. And not in a good way. And I doubt that Merrick Garland’s statement will slow down the Trump train one bit:

The Justice Department on Thursday moved to unseal portions of the search warrant executed at the Mar-a-Lago estate of former President Donald Trump.

“The public’s clear and powerful interest in understanding what occurred under these circumstances weighs heavily in favor of unsealing,” prosecutors revealed in a court filing connected to the search warrant.

Attorney General Merrick Garland announced the news moments after the department filed the motion in federal court in Florida.

“I personally approved the decision to seek a search warrant in the latter,” he said. Addressing criticisms of the department and FBI agents lodged by Trump and his allies, he added: “I will not stand by silently when their integrity is unfairly attacked.”

[…]

“All Americans are entitled to the evenhanded application of the law, the due process of the law and to the presumption of innocence,” said Garland. “Much of our work is by necessity conducted out of the public eye. We do that to protect the constitutional rights of all Americans and to protect the integrity of our investigations.”

Note:

“Former President Trump, through counsel, was provided copies of each of these documents on August 8, 2022, as part of the execution of the search,” the filing adds.

–Dana


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