His supporters appear to believe this fallacy: that former President Donald Trump is above the law.
The law says all documents generated by a presidential term are to be turned over to the National Archives on our behalf. They are not to be spirited off to a storeroom at a former president’s home, no matter how palatial.
We didn’t have to wonder long about why the U.S. Department of Justice broke its long-standing policy of not commenting on an ongoing investigation on Wednesday. Attorney General Merrick Garland held a press conference Thursday morning, saying he had asked the warrant judge to release the warrant document, and defending his Department of Justice staff saying “Faithful adherence to the rule of law” is the hallmark of the Justice Department.
First, far-right extremists blew up social media with violent, antisemitic threats focused on the judge who reportedly signed the warrant that allowed the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) search. Those threats have continued to escalate.
Nuclear Weapons Program Materials Sought
But as reported Thursday night, among the top secret documents that the FBI was looking for were highly classified documents on the U.S. nuclear programs; whether ours, our allies or our enemies is not known. In other words; this really was a national security threat.
There is no reason for a former president to have these documents. Highly classified documents aren’t to be removed from the White House. Period. Given that repeated reports document that Trump reads not much of anything, it is all the more interesting.
Trump released an eyebrow-raising statement early on Friday regarding reports that these classified documents were what the FBI was looking for.
“President Barack Hussein Obama kept 33 million pages of documents, much of them classified. How many of them pertained to nuclear? Word is, lots!” Trump wrote in an email release from his Save America PAC.
It should be noted that Trump didn’t actually deny taking the classified documents related to nuclear weapons. In fact, only hours earlier, he had issued a statement again accusing the FBI of planting evidence during the raid.
Violent threats Against the Judge who issued the Trump Search Warrant are Mounting
The typical Trump chaos has continued to fuel violent rhetoric from his followers. The search at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate for presidential classified information that by law was supposed to be turned over to the National Archives had barely been served, when far-right extremists filled social media with obscenities and threats of extreme violence.
Telegram has boiled over with threats, slurs, racial epitaphs, and calls for civil war. So have Gab, parlor, 4-chan, TheDonald, and Geetr, as is Trump’s own new social media, inaccurately called Truth Social.
Among the hate-filled messages are doxing information for what appears to be Judge Bruce Reinhart’s home address, phone numbers, and names of his family members alongside threats of extreme violence.
As reported on Vice.com on Trump’s own social media site messages such as this appeared and multiplied:
“This is the piece of shit judge who approved FBI’s raid on Mar-a-Lago,” a user wrote on the pro-Trump message board formerly known as TheDonald. “I see a rope around his neck.”
In another post on the same message board, one user commented, “Let’s find out if he has children….where they go to school, where they live…EVERYTHING.”
“The threats against Judge Reinhart in the wake of the Mar-a-Lago raid are significant,” Daniel J. Jones, founder of Advance Democracy, told VICE News. “In addition to the antisemitic and violent slurs, we’re seeing his address and other personal information being shared online—with the implied or explicit purpose of ‘real-life’ action.”
Significantly, many of these threats were posted on the same message board where many of those involved in the Jan. 6 Capitol riot posted threats of violence in the lead-up to Jan. 6.
Trump has scrambled to explain why his home was searched, even as his supporters cry for civil war. But he has also pushed conspiracy theories about the FBI supposedly planting evidence there.
With a judge and his family threatened, it should be pointed out that protection against what can only be called violent domestic extremists, is in place.
The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida says “the Court has no comment.” The FBI deferred comment to the U.S. Marshals, who are in charge of U.S. Court Security.
“The U.S. Marshals are responsible for the protection of the federal judicial process, and we take that responsibility very seriously,” a spokesperson for the U.S. Marshals told VICE News.