Hillary Clinton implicitly reminded observers of some of the brazenly destructive impacts of Trump’s time in the public spotlight after the FBI raided the ex-president’s Florida Mar-a-Lago resort on Monday.
Those impacts contrast with what was available from a hypothetical, Hillary Clinton-led presidential administration. Clinton, of course, faced years-long antagonism to a feverish degree from many voices on the Right over her handling of government materials while serving as Secretary of State. Now, what’s the basis for the FBI search of Mar-a-Lago? Concerns about Trump’s handling of government materials. Besides the hypocrisy, Trump’s team is responsible for something in which Clinton never engaged: taking classified materials to a former president’s high-dollar, southern Florida resort. Over a dozen boxes of records that federal law mandated be provided to the National Archives at the close of Trump’s term instead went to Mar-a-Lago, and once the agency recovered the materials, it found classified docs and referred the matter to the Justice Department.
One key Trump ally, Kash Patel, contested that the documents remained classified, but the Archives stated it uncovered such material. “Every “But her emails” hat or shirt sold helps @onwardtogether partners defend democracy, build a progressive bench, and fight for our values. Just saying!” Clinton tweeted.
Every “But her emails” hat or shirt sold helps @onwardtogether partners defend democracy, build a progressive bench, and fight for our values.
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) August 9, 2022
It’s remarkable, of course, that so many of the same folks who demanded the powers of federal law enforcement be used against political enemies like Clinton are now furious federal law enforcement went against their own side, even though, unlike what they hoped for with Clinton, there’s what seems like substantial real-world evidence this time. Apparently, they can rhetorically dish it out but can’t take it, although there’s more nuance here. The FBI agents who conducted the search of Mar-a-Lago didn’t just wake up Monday and decide to pester Trump: the pre-raid process likely included judicial approval and the backing of high-ranking department officials, and the lengthier the process gets, the more far-fetched that notions of a conspiracy become. Clinton herself was investigated by federal authorities basically ad nauseum, and she was never charged with any criminal offense, although Trump, when in office, still sought Clinton’s prosecution anyway.
As for Trump, The New York Times outlines how the FBI would’ve “needed to convince a judge that it had probable cause that a crime had been committed, and that agents might find evidence at Mar-a-Lago, to get a search warrant.” One aim of the search of Mar-a-Lago was evidently to see whether government records that federal record-keeping authorities were meant to obtain were still there. At this stage, Trump no longer possesses any power to declassify documents, so if something remains classified but got shipped off to Mar-a-Lago, that’s a problem. Throughout his presidency, he routinely mishandled federal records. Trump administration records that were obtained from the Archives by the House committee investigating the Capitol riot were taped back together. It’s unclear at this point whether Trump himself will get charged for the federal documents’ mishandling, but it’s clear the raid shows how serious things are.